In thriller 'Runner Runner,' Timberlake, Affleck explore gambling's underside

Thu Oct 3, 2013 7:34pm EDT
 
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The dark and murky world of online gambling comes alive in new film "Runner Runner," a thriller exploring the depths of greed starring Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck.

Writers David Levien and Brian Koppelman, who penned the 1998 gambling drama "Rounders," return to the poker world with "Runner Runner," out in U.S. theaters on Friday. While gambling is a core theme, the writers said they were inspired by the behaviors and motivations of shady operators from many other industries as well.

"We never set out to intentionally hit a topic. We loved the idea of a maverick businessman who is immune to extradition. It was informed by gaming as well as other business figures," said Levien of the 20th Century Fox film.

"Runner Runner," which owes its name to poker slang, follows Timberlake as a graduate student who goes to Costa Rica to confront an online gambling tycoon played by Affleck, who swindles him.

While gambling is actually rarely seen in the thriller, which features luxurious locations, lavish parties and plenty of fight scenes, the portrayal of gambling's underside was enough to spook casino industry groups like the American Gaming Association (AGA) as they push for a legitimate online poker market.

The AGA has launched a marketing campaign to portray "Runner Runner" as a "cautionary tale" about what could go wrong in the seedy world of unregulated online gaming.

Both Levien and Koppelman were surprised by the trade group's reaction. "We find it amusing," said Koppelman.

'WILD SWINGS OF FORTUNE'   Continued...

 
Singer/actor Justin Timberlake watches Rafael Nadal of Spain face Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the men's final match at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York, September 9, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar