By Bob Gibbons
You can look this up on line: in the poker game called Texas Hold Em, a runner runner is a situation where both the fourth and fifth community cards are needed to make a hand. Also known as backdoor and perfect perfect. If that’s true (you never know with what you read on line), then this movie is poorly named in so many ways: it’s far from perfect perfect; it’s much closer to mediocre mediocre – and many more than two cards would be needed to turn this into any sort of a winning hand. It’s one of those games where a player with any smarts at all would have folded early. This is a story of on-line gambling, of a man who sold his soul to the devil and ended up in a game where the stakes were higher than he ever expected. Good premise; it should have been a lot better than it turned out to be. Supposedly, this is a crime drama thriller – except there’s not much drama, few (if any) thrills and the real crime is that this movie’s cast are all wrong for the roles. This is movie-making lite with a story where everybody is playing a weak hand without the ability to play it well – and they’re all waiting for someone else to raise, call or do something interesting. All the good cards are still buried somewhere in the deck and so director Brad Furman pads out scenes, tries to build suspense by wandering around the table, and waits for someone to claim the pot. And by the way – and Timberlake’s character will tell you this at one point in the story: the odds of hitting a runner runner are only about four in one hundred – about the same odds that you’ll enjoy this movie.