Runner Runner

  • Review Date: October 3, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Don't bet on dumb gambling thriller; some language, sex.
  • Review Date: October 3, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages
This is a Faustian story in which a supposedly "good" character makes a deal with "the devil" ... except here he doesn't even hesitate, and he ends up rich at the end, despite all the things he's done wrong. Consumerism is also celebrated, drinking occurs without consequences, and women are treated as sex objects.
Positive role models
The main character is supposed to be a smart Princeton student, but his questionable logic and behavior make him anything but a role model (though at least he comes to understand that he's made a mistake and works to correct it). No other characters qualify as positive role models, either.
Violence
The main character gets beaten up by a group of thugs, and a little trickle of blood is shown on his face. He's also abducted and tossed in a truck with a bag pulled over his head. In another scene, he's chased by a car and briefly assaulted. Two minor characters are fed to crocodiles, but only one is eaten (the other is fished out in time).
Sex
Viewers briefly see a black-and-white sex tape on a TV screen, which shows a minor male character and two women in bed. Sex is fairly visible. Otherwise, all of the women in the movie are scantily clad and treated as sex objects. (One male character slaps a woman's bottom and describes her as "first class, not coach.") The main male and female characters are shown passionately kissing up against a wall; it's clearly foreplay, but no sex scene follows. The other male lead kisses her on the neck in one scene.
Language
Many uses of "f--k." Other words include "s--t," "p---y," "hell," "ass," "a--hole," "blow job," "prick," "bastard," and "oh God" (as an exclamation).
Consumerism
The character drinks a Bud Light in one scene; the XOJet logo is shown prominently. The movie is mainly about making -- and spending -- tons of money.
 
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Adult characters are often shown drinking beers at parties or out celebrating, but no one ever appears drunk or has a drinking problem (or consequences of any kind, really). Characters occasionally drink stronger things like scotch or vodka. Drugs are planted in a character's belongings as part of a set-up. Characters are seen smoking cigars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Runner Runner is a thriller starring  Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck that takes place in the world of online gambling. There are some violent images, such as characters being chased, abducted, and beaten up, as well as a character being fed to crocodiles (not much blood is shown). Women are scantily clad throughout and treated as sex objects; viewers briefly see a fairly graphic sex tape on a TV screen, and the main character and the female lead kiss passionately in one shot (the implication is that it's foreplay). Language is very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," as well as "s--t" and "p---y." Consumerism is celebrated, with lots of money spent; characters are often seen drinking beer (or harder drinks) at parties or other celebrations, with no consequences. Timberlake might attract some teen fans to this movie, but word of mouth might just as quickly turn them off.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) is a promising Princeton graduate student, but his job as an affiliate for a gambling site gets him in trouble. So he decides to risk his life savings in online poker to win the rest of his tuition money. He loses but discovers that he was cheated, so he flies to Puerto Rico to meet the site's reclusive creator, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Ivan is apparently so impressed with Richie's skills that he hires him as his new right-hand man. Richie becomes wealthy and meets the beautiful Rebecca Shafran (Gemma Arterton), who also works for Ivan. But trouble finds him again when the FBI noses in, the local gambling czar demands more money, and Richie figures out that he's the fall guy.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Director Brad Furman's previous movie, The Lincoln Lawyer, took what could have been a generic Hollywood thriller and turned it into something good, a movie that didn't pander or dumb itself down and focused on interesting characters. Unfortunately, RUNNER RUNNER is an actual generic Hollywood thriller that has dumbed itself down and forgets about characters.

The screenplay invents situations and then forgets about them, such as making Ivan mysterious and elusive at first and then making him totally available later, when the plot requires it. And Richie and Rebecca's relationship is dangerous at first, but the movie proceeds to diffuse it, turning it into nothing. Coincidences -- such as a very convenient gambling expo taking place -- substitute for twists, and dumb action scenes are sloppily inserted. None of these actors can make anything out of what they're given, not even the reliable Anthony Mackie as the FBI guy. Somebody took a gamble on this thin material and lost.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it means to "make a deal with the devil." Would you be able to resist such a deal? Why are tales with this kind of plot known as "Faustian stories"?
  • Does the world of gambling seem like a violent one? How does Runner Runner present the violence and danger? Is it scary or thrilling?
  • How does the movie portray drinking? Do the characters drink too much? What would some realistic consequences of their behavior be?
  • How does this movie view women? Are they stereotypes? Are any of the women in the movie valued for anything other than their looks?
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  • What messages does the movie have regarding online privacy? How can you keep your personal information safe online?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 4, 2013
DVD release date:January 7, 2014
Cast:Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, Justin Timberlake
Director:Brad Furman
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Thriller
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some sexual content

This review of Runner Runner was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byDan G. October 4, 2013
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Violence, Group Sex, and Bad Language - R Rated - Not for Children

The values espoused in this film are very base. The goal of obtaining as much wealth and privilege, no matter how many people you have to hurt to do it, is held up as the premier ideal in life. If the main character figured it out in the end, perhaps there would be some redemption. However, instead we are treated with a few instances of disturbing violence against other people, an instance of a group sex orgy, and crude language throughout.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Written byAnonymous October 5, 2013
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Not for kids at all.

This Movie is Not for Kids. Sex, Violence, Bad Language, Drinking & Drugs and a whole lot more.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bymusicforver January 6, 2014
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Runner Runner

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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