Three months ago, when the first trailer for Runner Runner was released online, most people seemed mildly interested in seeing Ben Affleck cover new ground and portray a morally-dubious online gambling tycoon, who operates his illicit empire from (ironically) the sun-bathed tropics of Costa Rica. However, now that Affleck is set to portray the Caped Crusader in the Man of Steel sequel – unofficially known as Batman vs. Superman – everyone will be keeping a close eye on how well he plays the Runner Runner antagonist (whose handsome and charming exterior disguises his ruthless and borderline-psychotic mental state).
Affleck is featured as heavily (if not more so) in the second – and shorter – trailer for Runner Runner as he’s in the first theatrical preview, but the story remains Justin Timberlake’s character’s, first and foremost. The neo-Noir(ish) crime thriller revolves around Princeton grad student Richie Furst, who makes a failed attempt to payoff his tuition by winning in a contest held on an online gambling site. Ritchie, believing himself to have been cheated, leaves the country in order to confront the site’s owner, Ivan Block (Affleck), in person.
Ritchie is shocked when, upon meeting Block, the tycoon immediately offers to pay him back in full – since $15-20,000 dollars is chump change when your business makes $9 million a day – and then invites the young man to put his mathematical know-how to better u$e by working for him. Rounding out the cast are Gemma Arterton (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) as the lady who completes a dangerous triangle with Affleck and Timberlake, along with Anthony Mackie (Pain & Gain) as the FBI agent who blackmails Ritchie into helping to take down Block.
Runner Runner – named after a poker term for when hitting two consecutive cards on the turn and river (a very difficult feat) is necessary in order to win the pot – was scripted by Brian Kppelman and David Levien, who previously collaborated on the scripts for the Matt Damon/Edward Norton gambling thriller Rounders and the third installment in the aughts’ Ocean’s Eleven movie continuity, Ocean’s Thirteen. Based on trailer footage, their Runner Runner story seems conventional, yet it appears to hit all the right notes to (possibly) make for a solid crime flick.
That also goes for the direction by Brad Furman, who’s already shown a knack for handling this sort of genre material on the legal thriller The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey as an unorthodox and sleazy defense attorney who end up defending the very legal system that he has long manipulated for personal gain. Timberlake’s protagonist in Runner Runner seems decent, if far more vanilla than McConaughey from Lincoln Lawyer, but this film will really be Affleck’s chance to shine – and (hopefully) provide further reason to believe that he’ll make for a good Caped Crusader in Man of Steel 2.
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Runner Runner opens in U.S. theaters on October 4th, 2013.
Source: 20th Century Fox