Runner Runner

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Runner Runner Movie Poster Image
Don't bet on dumb gambling thriller; some language, sex.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byslasher23 August 16, 2014
some violence a sexual content with brief nudity a some strong language
Parent Written byDan G. October 4, 2013

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 hel... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bymusicforver January 6, 2014

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?

This is a generic Hollywood thriller that has dumbed itself down and forgets about characters. 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 just doesn't compare.

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.

Talk to your kids 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?
  • What messages does the movie have regarding online privacy? How can you keep your personal information safe online?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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