Opening 17 Oct 2013
Writing credits: Brian Koppelmann, David Levien
Principal actors: Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, Michael Esper
“Americans spent $2.6 billion on illegal online gambling websites in 2012. In fact, Americans generate nearly 10 percent of the current $33 billion worldwide online gambling market.” (source: film press information). Director Brad Furman has assembled internationally famous actors to tell us all about it. Richie (Justin Timberlake) is a smart student but has little money. He helps his fellow students gamble online, until he personally feels that he has been cheated and decides to leave New Jersey for Costa Rica to confront the man behind the game: Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). He joins forces with Block, rises in the ranks, falls in love with Block’s girlfriend Rebecca (Gemma Arterton), brings in two of his former college friends, and, finally, cooperates with FBI chief Shavers (Anthony Mackie) to bring it all down.
This plays out in a luxurious atmosphere of mansions with swimming pools, fancy cars, casinos, beautiful scenery (actually filmed in Puerto Rico), as well as violence in the night. The story resembles other rich gangster films, except perhaps in language. Gamblers have their own vocabulary and sometimes I missed the meaning, but still I was curious about it. According to the film notes, “in Texas hold ‘em poker each player receives two hole cards which are hidden and three cards face up called The Flop. The fourth card is The Turn, the fifth is The River. If The Turn and The River are the cards the player needs to win (a very lucky break) it’s called runner runner.
This film will appeal to fans of action and Timberlake. I would look forward to the same film as a documentary based on real people and facts, which would be difficult, of course, considering that we are talking here about breaking the law, “despite the fact that the U.S. government is doing everything in its power to crack down on illegal operators.” (Becky Tan)