rating: 2Runner Runner is an attempt at constructing a thriller based around online gambling and the riches that can come from playing your cards right. Gambling in general has always been associated with living life on the wild side, regardless if its done for an adrenaline rush or in desperation to rake in some quick dough to pay off loans. Its just a shame that this fascination isnt depicted with the excitement or style of a film like Casino or even 21, but rather nonstop boredom and clichés. Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) has the privilege of receiving his education at a prestigious University, but is also quite strapped for cash. He deviously turns his fellow students onto an online poker website because for each referrer, he receives a small slice of money in return. Unfortunately for Richie, its just not enough, and he ends up gambling away $17k on this very site, which also happens to be every cent to his name. Soon after, Richie and his Princeton buddies run some mathematical statistics and come to a startling conclusion; the people Richie lost to are way out of the normal win ratios and have clearly cheated. This prompts Richie to drop everything and visit the source of this gambling ring; the exotic and luxurious Costa Rica. He immediately begins poking around and asking questions in hopes of seeking an audience with the head honcho, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), in the hope that he will be understanding and return the lost cash. Up until now, you might be thinking to yourself that theres an interesting premise here, and you would honestly be right. Ive always found movies, thrillers especially, most engaging when the plot is fairly outside the box and dabbling in subjects you rarely see explored in films. I personally dont know of many films centered on online gambling, so the idea presented is at least refreshing. Runner Runner unfortunately wastes its premise, though, with some of the laziest and most embarrassingly predictable writing I have seen all year. For starters, its absolutely absurd how lucky Richie just happens to be in his initial quest to confront Ivan. He literally just attends a party and stumbles upon Ivans lover Rebecca (Gemma Arterton) at a party, and makes a good impression. Maybe those are just the perks of being Justin Timberlake. Who knows? Not before long, Richie meets Ivan, who sympathizes with him and doesnt just return the cash, but actually offers him a powerful position helping run the whole operation. It starts out like your typical American dream, as Richie is suddenly rolling with money and power, but like all protagonists to have ever found themselves in this situation, he wants the one thing he cant have - his bosss woman. Things begin to complicate even further when an FBI agent (Anthony Mackie) comes at Richie hard, breathing down his neck, bottle-necking him into a corner where he must play his next card cautiously. Sadly, the movie is not riveting in any way, shape, or form and largely amounts to watching our leads horrifically act their way through scene after scene of tiring dialogue. Justin Timberlake is honestly not a terrible actor, but here he is seemingly lost and confused, delivering dramatic lines with no weight or intensity. Whenever ever the script calls for him to get loud and angry, he just ends up eliciting laughs with a whiny, cracking pre-pubescent voice. Ben Affleck also wont be winning any points with anyone here, as for someone who is supposed to be a serious and intimidating racketeer runner, he comes across as happy-go-lucky and humourous, working his way through mountains of cheesy dialogue. Even during scenes towards the end of the film, theres just no emotion or intensity to be found within his dialogue when he should be fuming. The only time he actually gets angry is during a sequence from the trailer that everyone has already seen by now, but in the context of the film, its again just more humourous than anything. Decent writing or thrills dont come along to save the movie either. In fact, Runner Runner may be one of the most telegraphed and predictable films in recent memory, bursting with clichés and plot points you are either sick of, can see from a mile away, or both. In other films, these instances can be occasionally mitigated with a twist or exciting final sequence, but Runner Runner again opts for the lazy route, with one of the most anti-climactic final 15 minutes I have ever seen. Runner Runner clearly presents a premise worth getting excited over; it just needs stronger writing, acting and perhaps even direction, considering both Affleck and Timberlake phone it in throughout this by-the-book thriller. This is the kind of movie you rent for $1 at Redbox because you need to kill some time, or have a family movie night. Five years from now, I can see this movie constantly slotted on networks like USA and TNT to fill the programming gaps. Regardless of how the proposition of watching Runner Runner may crop up to you, I insist you just run away in search of a thriller that actually contains thrills. Runner Runner is playing now in US cinemas.