Thursday, October 24, 2013

Runner Runner

God's House Always Wins!
By Jan McClure

Movie Review of
Runner Runner
Director: Brad Furman
Actors: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, John Heard

Runner Runner is an R-rated movie that has some offensive lanquage and a brief, sexually explicit scene. However, for mature adults who can discern the immorality of it, I believe it is overall a good movie. I enjoy a film that surprises me and has many different subplots.

Justin Timberlake has become quite a convincing actor, and I felt he played his role well.  Richie Furst (played by Justin Timberlake) is a marketing graduate student at Princeton who is supporting himself through online gambling.  He is warned by the dean that he must stop his ways and pay his tuition immediately.  Richie proceeds to bet a high dollar amount, because he is doesn't have the full tuition.

After losing the online poker game, Richie realizes the online poker website is a scam.  He consults his father, Harry Furst (played by John Heard), who evidently was not the best father: He had a severe gambling problem.  Richie wants to see if his father has any connections with the online gambler. However, he doesn’t.

Richie then decides to head to Costa Rica to confront the online gambling tycoon, Ivan Block (played by Ben Affleck) about being cheated.  (Apparently even gamblers have a code of ethics.)  After meeting Richie, the tycoon is impressed with his intellect and offers him a job for quite a large sum of money.  Two of Richie’s classmates join him, and they begin living the “good” life.

There were several themes in the movie that remind me of our journey in the Christian life.  One of Richie’s colleagues discovers that the online gambling company is a total fraud, and he immediately packed his bags and leaves the country. He tells Richie and his other friend to do the same, but they both think that no one can touch them in Costa Rica and that they can stay clean.

Soon they discover that they are in very deep and cannot leave. I am reminded of how, when temptation strikes us, we too should pack our bags immediately and go in the other direction; otherwise our sins become deeper and we have a harder time getting out of the muck.

The other parallel I noticed is how focused Ritchie becomes when he develops a plan for escaping.  He doesn’t get distracted by any of the decadent sins around him, but rather keeps focused on his plan to get out of Costa Rica. We too should be like this. We need to focus on the Lord and not be tempted by the things of the world, so that we can get out of this “world” and reach our destination of heaven.

At another point in the movie, Richie is like Satan. He finds out what his opponent's weakness is and he offers this temptation to him.  His opponent takes the bait and he is now a slave to Richie's commands. It is true that Satan knows our weakest point, and his plan is to destroy us through our weaknesses, but it is through the Sacraments that we receive grace to fight the battle.

In the movie, Richie wants to leave the ways of his father and improve his life, yet he finds himself following in his father’s footsteps. So often we do the same. There are many verses in the Bible regarding generational sin and sins of the father (Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:2, John 9:3). We want to be different than our parents, and yet on our own we seem to be predisposed to commit the same sins, but by turning to Jesus Christ, and through his grace, we can change and turn towards him and stop the cycle.

One of the sayings in the movie is “The house always wins”. I thought: How true that is. God always wins, and our house is not here on earth but in heaven in His house. I am so thankful that I know this and can live my life focused on this journey. I know how it turns out and I know that His House always wins.

May we share the story of how it ends with others so that they too may know the love, peace and joy of our Lord!

Questions for youth groups, families, and other small group discussions (and we hope you will post a comment below!):
  1. Think of a time you were able to quickly resist a temptation. Why was it easy -- or difficult?
  2. Do you know what your weakness is that makes you vulnerable to temptation?  How can you keep yourself protected?
  3. In what ways does God’s House always win?

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