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Costa Rica newspaper mistakes Hollywood movie for a porno film, incites outrage from Public Security Ministry

December 9, 2014

While it has been more than a year since the online gambling thriller “Runner Runner” was released in the United States and Latin America, a recent story in a Costa Rican newspaper has incited outrage over the country’s portrayal in the movie, which is set in San José.

The film follows a Princeton graduate named Richie (played by Justin Timberlake) to Costa Rica where he confronts an online gambling tycoon (played by Ben Affleck) who scammed him. The movie portrays Costa Rica as an international criminal hideout, with scenes depicting drug use, prostitution and corrupt police officers. Although the movie is set in Costa Rica, it was filmed in Puerto Rico. (Get ready for another round of visitors referring to the “island” of Costa Rica and its capital, “San Juan.”)

“Runner Runner” debuted last October to abysmal reviews, and aside from a terrible review from the Spanish-language daily La Nación, its release went relatively unnoticed in Costa Rica. That is, until a reporter at Costa Rica’s most-read newspaper Diario Extra dug up some footage last week and mistook it for pornography because of scantily clad women portrayed in a scene.

From Diario Extra:

In what seems to be an erotic movie filmed in another country, the authorities from our country are shown very critically, with some of the actors even wearing uniforms with our flag and police insignia.

The story includes stills from “Runner Runner,” with arrows pointing out Costa Rican police uniforms worn by some of the actors. Although some of the stills have clear shots of Justin Timberlake’s face, the story fails to identify the movie as anything other than an unnamed “erotic film.”

The story’s reporter, Manuel Estrada, called up Costa Rican Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa for comment on the portrayal of the police.

“We don’t know how to get people to stop filming these types of movies that instead of calling attention to our country’s beautiful flora and fauna, stain the image of our police,” Gamboa told Diario Extra. “This is a way to call on all of the criminals and drug addicts and tell them that Costa Rica is ideal for those types of activities.”

Gamboa also told the newspaper that the use of the police insignia was unlawful as it was not authorized by the state. It is unclear if Gamboa, like the reporter, was unaware that the selected scenes were from a Hollywood production and not a random porno film.

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