In Runner Runner, Justin Timberlake plays Richie Furst, a Princeton graduate student who’s facing the threat of expulsion after he’s exposed as the campus’ online gambling bookie. Pushed to the wall by this threat and not having enough money to pay for his tuition, he makes the not-so-clever decision of gambling all the money he has left. Of course he loses but when he realizes that his loss was not entirely his fault, he decides to fly all the way to Costa Rica to meet no less than the boss of online gambling himself, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck).

Furst and Block learn a life’s worth of lessons in the film, the hard way. And before you see what we’re talking about, here’s what we learned from them.

8. Don’t judge the movie by the trailer

While Runner Runner is, in its entirety, formulaic and contrived, the trailer focuses on the film’s non-existent thrill and steers clear of the film’s stronger points—the two main characters’ conflicted natures and the ordeal they throw themselves into.

7. When it comes to casting, timing is everything

Director Brad Furman snags Affleck in between his Argo success and his controversial stint as the next Bruce Wayne, and Timberlake shortly after the triumphant Cannes premiere of the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis. He may not be anywhere near as talented as his stars but he sure knows how to get people to pay attention.

6. Corruption is the same everywhere

Costa Rica (which is actually Puerto Rico) looks a little too familiar it’s almost uncomfortable. Probably because you know that wherever in the world you run to, there will always be people like Ivan Block and the people he pays to stay in power.

5. We are our parents’ children

If your father is a life-long gambler, chances are, you’ll be one, too.

4. Relationships are complicated

Significant others are sometimes unnecessary distractions. Sometimes they actually make things better.

3. Play or get played

Life is not just a matter of playing your cards right, apparently. It’s also about knowing who you’re playing with.

2. There are no shortcuts

Furst made his first shortcut when he decided to gamble all his money for more and he ended up getting cheated. And then he takes another one by going all the way to Block only to be shoved into a bigger problem. You should work for what you want and you should work hard. If you don’t get it, you do something else or you work even harder.

1. There will always be good guys

It’s just a matter of figuring out which ones they are.


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