Critics Agree: “Runner Runner” Is [Insert Poker Pun For Bad Here]

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The early reviews for 20th Century FOX’s poker drama Runner Runner starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake are in, and the early consensus seems to have the film somewhere in between unwatchable and … meh.

Runner Runner on the Tomatometer

With a worldwide release date of October 4, 2013 (the film has already opened in Australia) the film is currently tracking at just 23% on, a ranking usually occupied by only the biggest flops, especially when a film contains the star-power of Runner Runner.

For a little context on what 23% means, The Lone Ranger and Kickass 2 scored 30% and 29% respectively.

While negative reviews are generally a hoot to read, it’s one of the positive reviewers, Matt Neal of The Standard, who may very well have the most comical line.

Apparently Neal seems to find the premise of the film (Super-Using/inside-cheating) implausible – even though it actually happened. Says Neal: “The film moves quickly initially, mostly to blow past the fact that its premise is hard to swallow, but it settles into an attractive pace as the tension rises.”

Response on IMDB has been slightly more positive (but only in the relative sense).

What the Poker Community Is Saying

Leaving the realm of professional critics for a moment, the film also garnered some attention from the poker community in the form of its own thread on 2+2. From about post #400 on in Runner Runner thread you can check out some early reviews from members of the poker community who have seen the film.

One poster called the film “cringeworthy,” while more than one poster stated they nearly walked out of the theater the film was so bad. I only saw a single post that stated the movie was “decent.”

Some other quotes:

  • “Waste of time and money IMO.”
  • “Total waste of time.”
  • “Saw it yesterday, would give it like 50- 60%”

Dave Clark captured the general level of interest and anticipation among the community at large with this tweet:

But one voice offering a positive view of the film was Gus Hansen, who gave the film a “seven out of ten” and  that Affleck did a “good job as the villain.”

The AGA and Runner Runner

Ever since the announcement of the film and its storyline, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has indicated they will use the film in lobbying efforts; invoking some odd “Hollywood-as-life” argument on why the federal government needs to legalize and regulate the industry.

Despite the poker community’s collective eye roll at the AGA’s attempts to take the pile of lemons that is Runner Runner and make lemonade, the group is apparently going to follow through with their pronouncement that Runner Runner is a good vehicle to help sway legislators.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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