Blu-ray Review: RUNNER RUNNER

Jan 11, 2014 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

“Let’s think this through for a second. You’re about to jet off to a country you’ve never been to, with a language you do not speak, bluff your way into Ivan Block’s posse, somehow call him out in front of everybody he knows, and you expect him to just give you your money back and say, ‘Oh, that’s my bad, dude. My fault.'”

Financial wiz kid Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) lost everything when the capital firm he worked for crashed during the S&L scandal. Now he’s back at school at Princeton to earn his masters in finance, but his job as a graduate teaching assistant doesn’t earn enough to pay his tuition, so he resorts to online gambling. However, Richie’s luck takes a drastic and statistically impossible turn, and he soon discovers he has been cheated. So Richie heads to Costa Rica to find the man who owns the Midnight Black offshore casino, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), and confront him. Block has been on the FBI’s watch list for a long time, and Agent Shavers (Anthony Mackie) tries to coerce Furst into helping him take him down for wire fraud. Furst soon finds himself seduced by the greed, wealth, corruption—and Block’s assistant Rebecca (Gemma Arterton)—but can he get out before it’s too late..

After seeing the trailer, I was expecting this film to be much more of an exciting thriller like The Firm, but instead I found it to be a somewhat predictable, middle-of-the-road story. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the film, just that I didn’t find it all that remarkable. I don’t think the reasons why Block was exiled and on the FBI list were adequately explained at the start of the film. (These became a lot clearer to me watching the informative bonus feature that delves into the history and legality of the online gambling business.) I also found the premise a little too flawed and ludicrous—that this student would hop a flight to Costa Rica in hopes of getting his money back from an online casino. Being a financial wiz, Furst would have known the slim odds of success. That said, I thought Justin Timberlake gave a solid performance, while Ben Affleck is just a bit too over-the-top, and John Heard’s guest role as Furst’s gambling-addicted father felt like a cliched afterthought.

The film itself is quite visually appealing, with lots of beautiful shots. The picture is a bit grainy with an amber hue, but this seems to be a style choice rather than a limitation of the presentation. The audio track is excellent, especially during party scenes with music playing—there is great use of all of the speakers and bass—and all the film’s dialogue is presented clearly. The bonus features that are included on the disc are entertaining, just very slim. The aforementioned featurette on internet gambling is really informative and interesting, and I enjoyed the 10 minutes of deleted scenes. There are some nice sequences there that could have added to the film—I’m not sure why they were removed in the first place.

What’s Included:

Film (1:31:31):


    • 1080p / Widescreen 2.40:1
    • Audio: English DTS-HD-MA 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1, French (Quebec) DD 5.1, French DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Turkish DD 5.1
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Arabic, Hindi, Turkish


    • Widescreen 2.40:1
    • Audio: English DD 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Surround DD 2.0, French Surround DD 2.0
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

    Digital Copy: (Redemption Deadline 1/7/2016)

    • UltraViolet DigitalHD Copy redeemable via Flixster, Google Play or Vudu

      I accidentally received a Canadian code inside the US release, but was able to call support and get a replacement.


  • Deleted Scenes (10:40)
    A nice collection of deleted scenes that flesh out some of the events from the film—not sure why these were cut. Play All or select from “Block Scouts Antigua”, “Richie Bribes Way Into EDC Party”, “Richie’s The New Sheriff”, “Richie Learns The Ropes”, “Exended Richie and Rebecca Seaside Chat”, “Richie and Rebecca Cafe Chat” and “Where’s Cronin”.
  • House Of Cards: The Inside Story Of Online Poker (Blu-ray only) (17:00)
    Interesting look at the history and future of internet gaming. Features interviews with world series of poker runner-up Jesse Sylvia, chief brand strategist fr Pokertracker Steven Mcoughlin, retired FBI agent Jeff Lanza, publisher/EIC of Bluff Europe Magazine Michael Caselli, professional poker player Todd Witteles, director of IGaming Capital Melissa Blau, gaming law expert I. Nelson Rose, BETonSPORTS CEO David Carruthers, chief strategy officer for SHFL Entertainment Louis Castle, secretary of state for culture, media and sport RT Hon Tessa Jowell MP, and stars Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck. Play All or select from “The Wild West”, “The Boom”, “The Crackdown”, “The Offshore Boom”, “Risky Business”, and “The Future”.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:25)
  • Sneak Peek (6:21)
    Play All or select from trailers for “Robocop”, “The Counselor”, and “Don Jon”.


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Rent It First

Overall, Runner Runner kept me entertained, but it was far from the thriller I had hoped it would be based on the trailer—at times it was a bit predictable and the plot too ludicrous. Justin Timberlake fans should enjoy his solid performance. However even the biggest Ben Affleck fans would probably admit that this is not his best work. The bonus features, while great, are very short. I’d recommend a rental before a blind buy.