Co-producers, Anthony E. Zuker, Dustin Lee Abraham.
Directed by Ron Moler. Screenplay, Anthony E. Zuker. Camera (color), James Glennon; editors, Paul Heiman, Gene M. Gamache; supervising editor, Daniel Finfer; music, Anthony Marinelli; production designer, Christiaan Wagener; sound , Dolby Digital stereo. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 18, 1999. Running time: 95 MIN.
With: Ron Eldard, Courteney Cox, Joe Mantegna, Bokeem Woodbine, John Goodman.
For those who feel there’s room for one more insider’s Las Vegas gambling movie, maybe one in which true love and a child’s life hang in the balance of a last desperate bet, “The Runner” fits the bill. Exciting visuals and pace help hide story’s underlying silliness and the uninvolving romance between a compulsive young gambler living on the edge (Ron Eldard) and a cocktail waitress (Courteney Cox). Entertaining up to a point, especially when gangster-bettor John Goodman is onscreen, it should find some action-market pickups before heading for tube and vid.
Eldard’s character is so far in debt he lets his shady uncle (Joe Mantegna) get him hired as one of Goodman’s “runners.” Given a daily bag of money, he dashes around town placing huge bets with sports bookies, while Goodman keeps diabolically close tabs. After the vengeful boss has Mantegna chomped to death by a remote-controlled German shepherd in a memorable scene, Eldard goes straight — until he buys Cox a diamond ring with Goodman’s money. Story spirals wildly over the top in a final stadium showdown between a brain-injured Eldard and Goodman at his most satanic.