This new film is not just silly escapism, headily laced with a splash of 007’s Martini, but it’s also a low-risk insight into a maddeningly-complex world where ‘You have no idea who you’re playing with...’.
The once backstreet betting industry has gone global almost without us realising it.
Available at the click of a very dangerous mouse, the stakes have never been higher.
And so this new film is not just silly escapism, headily laced with a splash of 007’s Martini, but it’s also a low-risk insight into a maddeningly-complex world where ‘You have no idea who you’re playing with...’.
Princetown University mature student Richie (Justin Timberlake) is up to his eyeballs in debt, having been cheated by online company Midnight Black.
Richie flies to Costa Rica to turn the tables on Ben Affleck’s Ivan Block, an offshore kingpin who improbably takes him under his wing.
Director Brad Furman’s (The Lincoln Lawyer) film is a very different beast to Affleck’s more serious approach with his own career-saving films The Town (2010) and the Oscar-winning Argo (2012).
Furman cuts fast and loose, disregarding implausibilities at the expense of a battle of wills between men who might be equals.
While Affleck’s ‘mental Block’ offers little evidence as to whether he’ll make a good Dark Knight in Batman vs Superman (2015), Gemma Arterton’s weakly-written fish-out-of-water love interest Rebecca Shafran does tell us that Catherine Zeta-Jones was better than we thought.
The glossy cinematography by Avatar’s Mauro Fiore, the glamorous locations and Arterton herself all echo George Clooney’s hit-and-miss Ocean’s series.
Meanwhile, the mind-boggling financial numbers recall the relevance of Timberlake’s Facebook study, The Social Network (2010).
Named after a poker hand where other cards on the table improve your chances, Runner Runner won’t win any Oscars.
But at just 91 minutes it’s as quick and slick as it’s bright and breezy – a 50-50 bet for anyone fancying a Saturday night popcorn punt.