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Originally published Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 2:55 PM

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‘Runner Runner’: Gambling thriller deals a weak hand

A review of “Runner Runner,” a by-the-book (and by-the-clock) gambling thriller, starring Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie and Ben Affleck.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 1.5 stars

‘Runner Runner,’ with Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, Ben Affleck. Directed by Brad Furman, from a screenplay by Brian Koppelman and David Levien. 91 minutes. Rated R for language and some sexual content. Several theaters.

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If I were fluent in card terminology, I’d say something clever here about how Brad Furman’s “Runner Runner” shows its hand too early and folds in the clutch, or well before the clutch, or maybe it doesn’t even have a hand, or ... well, let’s just say that flailing around with gambling metaphors is more fun than watching this movie. This movie is a by-the-numbers gambling thriller in which people say things like “I’ll fade your action” (what?), and even when you have no clue what they’re talking about, you know exactly where the movie’s going and can pretty much tell from your watch how and when they’ll get there.

Good-guy grad student Richie (Justin Timberlake) travels to Costa Rica to meet bad-guy tycoon Ivan (Ben Affleck), believing that Ivan’s network of online-gambling sites has robbed him of his (freely gambled) Princeton tuition money. (He is, amusingly, quite upset about the unfairness of it all; seeming not to realize that he is not exactly the poster boy for injustice.) Bad guy charms good guy. Beautiful woman (Gemma Arterton) appears, for no particular reason, and flings her hair about. FBI guy (Anthony Mackie) appears, ditto, minus the hair. Punches are thrown. Nice suits are worn. Crocodiles are fed. Affleck displays some impressive stubble, which you might find yourself staring at for lack of much else to do.

It’s all a big disappointment from Furman, whose previous film — 2011’s “The Lincoln Lawyer,” with Matthew McConaughey — was great fun. The actors, who’ve all been better elsewhere, never generate much energy (though Mackie gets a few funny moments); they, too, seem to be going through the motions, like a tired card dealer who’s seen it all before.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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