Before he was Batman - before anyone was even thinking about another Batman movie, in fact - Ben Affleck was an online gambling magnate based in Puerto Rico. Meet Ivan Block, as well as his new stooge, Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake), in these new featurettes before Runner Runner comes out later this month.
Our young poker addict Furst (who had been using his winnings to pay for college) is seduced by Block’s promise of immense wealth, until he learns the disturbing truth about his benefactor. When the FBI tries to coerce him to help bring down Block, Richie faces his biggest gamble ever: attempting to outmanoeuvre the two forces closing in on him.
It certainly has the sheen of a slick thriller, and the idea of Timberlake going up against Affleck (with Anthony Mackie as the FBI agent and Gemma Arterton as the woman who comes between the two) has promise. Empire was on-hand at one of the sweltering Puerto Rican locations last summer, to learn that, despite being written by Rounders veterans Brian Koppelman and David Levien, this is much less a poker movie than a crime thriller.
"I was actually looking forward to taking the summer off," Timberlake told us, "but I read the script and met with Brad [Furman, the director], and his whole vision was just so high-stakes that it pushed me over the edge. I wasn't really aware of this world; I'm not a big gambler. But I tried to learn as much as I could, and I liked the idea that, behind the curtain there's something really seedy going on, and I liked the life-or-death stuff that Brad was talking about."
Runner Runner is out on September 27. Incidentally, the title Runner Runner comes from a poker term of the same name which describes a hand in Texas Hold 'Em which is only won with the turn (fourth) and river (fifth) cards. So you might start out with a straight on the flop, go all in, and be beaten by an opponent who gets a flush with the final two cards. That's known as a runner-runner hand.