Family movie night? There's an app for that
Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Presumably the movie is a cautionary tale about the dangers of drugs, but it glamorizes drug use at the same time, with the consequences not fitting the severity of the crime.
Positive Role Models
Movie makes small attempts to give Aiden a moral center by showing him not selling drugs to a 14-year-old and buying food and drink for a homeless man, but ultimately it's mostly made up of negative role models.
The only notable character of color is a Black man who's a drug dealer. He's loyal to his friend, but his characterization perpetuates negative stereotypes. Another Black character, a police officer, appears in one or two scenes. Women characters are presented in relation to the men around them; they don't have agency.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Bloody shoot-out during drug bust. Characters killed. Body falls into swimming pool, blood swirls in water. Characters shot, bleeding. Punching, fighting. Cop slams teen against car, slaps him hard in the face three times. Crashed car, blood on face. Arguing.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Three teens together in bed, two in their underwear; they get interrupted. Two teens lie in bed, kissing. Teen girl in underwear, lying on bed. Shirtless male. Teen male in bathtub; nothing sensitive shown. Jokey sexual innuendo.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Constant extreme language, with uses of "f--k" and "f---ing," "motherf----r," "Jesus f---ing Christ," "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "goddamn," "bitch," "ass," "blow me," "damn," "hell," "balls," "shut the f--k up," "scumbag." Middle-finger gesture.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens are shown selling drugs. Heavy, frequent teen drug use: prescription meds, pot smoking/bong use, vaping, cocaine snorting, and attempted heroin use. Bags of cocaine shown. Teen drinking, shots at party. Main character is staggering drunk/high at party. Frequent cigarette smoking. Teen athletes ask for performance-enhancing "juice." One teen gives synthetic drugs to another, causing a seizure.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Runner is a slick but sometimes confusing thriller/drama about a privileged White teen drug dealer/user who's arrested and forced to participate in a drug bust. Teens (especially the main character) are seen selling drugs, drinking shots, snorting cocaine, taking prescription pills, smoking pot, vaping, etc. Heroin is also shown, and a teen gets quite drunk/high at a party. Language is also extremely strong and constant, including "f--k," "s--t," and much more. There's a violent drug raid, with guns and shooting, deaths, people getting shot, and bloody wounds. Characters fight and punch, and a police officer shoves a teen up against a car and slaps him. The main character is seen lounging in bed with other teens (two at a time in one scene), wearing underwear, and with brief kissing. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Surface-level, slick, and vacant, this drug-centric teen drama deals in spoiled, unlikable characters. As a result, it can't generate any suspense or emotions with its by-the-numbers drug bust story. None of the characters in The Runner really work, but Aiden is the most troubling. Although Philipponnat throws himself into the role, Aiden is problematic on the page. He spends much of the movie looking anguished and weeping. His dark past involved him giving his former girlfriend synthetic drugs, causing a seizure and doing her irreparable harm. That, plus his lying to his friends and arguing with his mom, in addition to his rampant drinking and drug use, as well as his wealth and privilege, all make him deeply unsympathetic.
Even more perplexing is his relationship with Detective Wall. Half the time, the detective is slapping him and calling him a "punk"; the other half, he's cradling the sobbing boy in his arms and calling him "son." Using these and other empty characters to build up to the climactic party leaves everything feeling flat, even inorganic. There's a stop-and-start quality as all other characters are forced to wait for Aiden before they can jump in, and certain plot elements are left hanging. But the irritating, seemingly ambiguous ending is the worst part, leaving viewers even more aggravated than ever. Certainly there can be good, truthful stories about troubled upper-class White teens, but The Runner is as misguided as they come.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.