Poker players know the term “runner runner” well… It’s a phrase that signifies you need both the Turn and River cards (the 4th and 5th cards dealt in the middle in Texas Hold ‘Em) to turn up in your favor. Ultimately it means your chasing a shit hand with a straight or flush draw.
Most of the time it’s bad news, and thus Runner, Runner is appropriate enough for this story of a college kid whose life spirals out of control when online poker takes him across the sea. It comes from Rounders writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who have long been credited with making the only poker movie actually worth a shit. Runner, Runner doesn’t look to have too much focus on poker, but sensationalizing the shady overseas doings of online poker companies and their founders is certainly in their wheelhouse.
Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) is directing Ben Affleck –doing his best Denzel– and Justin Timberlake -doing his best college kid– in a film produced by their pal Leonardo Dicaprio. It takes both of these stars into Mark Wahlberg/Jason Statham B-crime flick territory, so it’s all a coin flip to see how the fun vs. insulted intelligence ratio shakes out.
This is a timely film- online poker is back in the news as it makes its slow creeping return into the US after “Black Friday”- the day online poker dried up in the states several years ago after the feds came down on it swfitly and decisively. With a federal bill brewing to bring it back and several states already prepping for the return of the industry though, we may well be looking at a second poker boom. You can catch up with the politics of all of it and get a little background on the world in which Runner, Runner takes place via this nice Wall Street Journal piece.