Movie Reviews

The Rundown

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 8 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

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Cast:
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Beck
Seann William Scott as Travis
Rosario Dawson as Mariana
Christopher Walken as Hatcher
Ewen Bremner as Declan
Jon Gries as Harvey
William Lucking as Walker
Ernie Reyes Jr. as Manito
Stuart Wilson as Swenson
Dennis Keiffer as Naylor
Garrett Warren as Henshaw
Toby Holguin as Head Indian Tracker
Stephen Bishop as Knappmiller
Chuck Norman as Mullaire
Jamal Duff as Jamai

Summary:
The Rundown is a fun action comedy that helps reinforce The Rock’s action star status.

Story:
Beck is an enforcer for a Los Angeles mobster. He’s tough and no-nonsense, but all he really wants to do is start a small gourmet restaurant. However, in order to do so he must first work off a debt he owes his employer. His boss makes him an offer for one last job. If he accomplishes it, his debt is erased and he can start his restaurant. He asks Beck to travel to Brazil to bring back his estranged son Travis.

Travis is a failed graduate student who has gone to Brazil to find a lost treasure – a gold idol called “El Gato”. He’s living in a gold mining town named “El Dorado” which is run by a ruthless man named Hatcher. He oppresses the locals and kills the rebels who oppose him. He has also recruited Travis to find the gold idol for him.

When Beck comes to town to get Travis, it’s not nearly as easy a job as he expected. Travis wants to stay and find the idol. Hatcher wants him to stay as well. The local rebels also have their own reasons for wanting Travis to stick around. Beck will have his work cut out for him if he wants to complete this rundown successfully.

The Rundown is rated PG-13 for adventure violence and some crude dialogue.

What Worked:
In the opening scene of The Rundown, The Rock walks into a crowded bar. As he passes through the people, a familiar face emerges from the crowd – Arnold Schwarzenegger. He says two words to The Rock in passing: “Have fun.” In that brief moment, it’s almost as if one action star is passing the torch to another future action star. It’s quite a moment and very appropriate. With this movie The Rock really establishes himself as successor to Schwarzenegger’s action icon status.

The Rundown is a fun action comedy. It has intense fight scenes and testosterone-supercharged action. However, all that is equally balanced by strong doses of humor. The creators managed to set the mood just right. The film never takes itself too seriously and the whole setup has a modern “Indiana Jones” feel. We see The Rock battle three guys with whips, look for an ancient gold idol, get in a vicious gun battle, and trek through the jungle. It really does draw a lot of inspiration from Indy.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is wonderful as Beck. After The Scorpion King, we knew he had potential to be a big action star. The Rundown assures that. The Rock seems much more natural in a modern setting than in a fantasy setting. We already knew he could handle the action well and this movie makes the most of that. The opening fight sequence where he takes on an entire football team’s offensive line in a bar is truly memorable and immediately sets the tone for the film. Beck swears off guns and at first this seems just like a move to make the character more politically correct. However, when there’s no options left and Beck must break out the guns, it makes the battle all the more intense and impressive. The anticipation of him going into full battle mode with guns blazing makes the final moment all the sweeter. But as already mentioned, there’s a lot of humor in this film and The Rock handles the comedy perfectly too. His exasperation in dealing with Travis, shock at fending off amorous monkeys, and trepidation at dealing with other rainforest creatures offer up a lot of hilarious moments. In the end you have a character that’s likable all the way around.

I often find that Seann William Scott dances back and forth over the line of being funny and being annoying. He does this throughout The Rundown. However, whenever I find myself about to be really annoyed with him, he does something at the last possible moment to make me laugh out loud. In the end it makes his character more endearing. Scott and The Rock end up making a good team and they play off of each other’s strengths well.

Christopher Walken is hilarious as Hatcher, the over-the-top villain of the film. Walken somehow transitions from hardcore action villain to comic relief with ease. One minute he’s the ultimate tough guy that you expect to battle The Rock, the next he’s trying to explain the tooth fairy to a group of Spanish speaking mercenaries. It’s quite a contrast in character, but Walken pulls it off. The result is one of the most entertaining movie bad guys in quite a while.

Overall, The Rundown is a great popcorn movie that’s just dumb fun. The movie offers up a lot of laughs and a lot of explosions. It’s well worth checking out with a large crowd in theaters.

What Didn’t Work:
The Rundown did have a few minor problems. First of all, the editing looks like it was done by a teenager wired on Jolt and extreme doses of sugar. Scenes cut back and forth so quickly that it’s disorienting. The spastic pace slows down through the middle but it picks up again during the final showdown.

Logic is also occasionally thrown out the window. Early on we see thousands and thousands of laborers toiling away in a massive strip mine. Later on when the locals pour into the streets during the final battle, there are only a handful of extras there. It’s a glaringly obvious disconnect. Very little also seems to be done to make Hawaii look authentically like Brazil. Monkeys from Africa are supposed to be Amazon inhabitants. Rosario Dawson, as pretty as she is, doesn’t come across as a Brazilian. The political situation with the rebels is also screwy. Those are minor details, though, that don’t take away from the entertainment value.

The fights also rely a little too heavily on wire stunts. People jump impossibly high distances. Bad guys are thrown as if they were weightless. It looks good, but it’s unnecessary. The Rock does his wrestling without wires and it still looks impressive. I wish movies would get away from relying on that style of fighting so much.

The Bottom Line:
With The Rock, a lot of explosions, a lot of laughs, and a lot of monkeys, you simply can’t go wrong. Check out The Rundown.

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