THE RUNDOWN

Starring Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, and Christopher Walken

Written by R.J. Stewart

Directed by Peter Berg

Review by Mark Walters


 I gotta admit, I like The Rock. Also known as Dwayne Johnson, he has a certain charisma about him, even when he's smashing someone into the floor. In his new movie THE RUNDOWN he plays a bounty hunter named Beck that desperately wants out of the business. Of course this isn't possible until he does that infamous one last job. His employer, a ruthless tycoon named Walker (William Lucking), sends Beck into the jungles of El Dorado to find his troublesome son. Apparently Walker's boy has caused some problems back home, and daddy wants to bring him back to face the music. Beck agrees hoping this will free him from future obligations, but his trip to the jungle gets complicated pretty fast. Upon arriving he meets a man named Hatcher (Walken) who appears to be in control of everyone and everything around him.  Meanwhile Travis (Scott) is using his charm to get help from the local bartender Mariana (Dawson), hoping he can find a long lost treasure called the Gato. It isn't long before Beck finds Travis, and makes his intentions clear. However Hatcher has his own plans, and Beck doesn't quite fit in. Now Beck and Travis must flee into the vast jungle, all the while trying to survive the perils that surround them, and find a way to tolerate each other. Hatcher is of course in pursuit, making their journey that much more dangerous.

THE RUNDOWN doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. It is however very entertaining. We've seen the bounty hunter on his last job storyline before, but this cast makes it fun and exciting. There's a cameo early in the film by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, telling Beck to "Have fun" as our hero walks into a noisy nightclub to bust some heads. This action icon passing of the torch sets the mood for the rest of the film, and The Rock definitely delivers. The action is extreme and fast-paced. Director Peter Berg, who previously brought us the dark comedy VERY BAD THINGS, does a fine job handling the excitement, and never passes on an opportunity to show off the exotic settings. The script is written by R.J. Stewart, whose writing credits don't extend much beyond CLEOPATRA 2525 and XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, but the dialogue is funny and in many places very unique. One speech by Walken involving the Tooth Fairy is perhaps one of the best he's ever been given to work with. The best thing about The Rock is that he can act. Sure, he does his fair share of body slams, but there are several great moments of both humor and drama, all played in fine fashion by the well-known wrestler. I hope he catches on as an action hero, because he's good at it! Seann William Scott is... Seann William Scott. He smirks, gives that cocksure laugh, and pratfalls just as well as he has in every other film he's been in. The best thing about Scott is that he's almost guaranteed to work well off of other actors. There's a good possibility he may get typecast to just being in buddy films, but if it ain't broke don't fix it. Rosario Dawson gives a sexy when sweaty performance, with a competently done accent, playing the tough female who is smarter than the two guys she follows around. So often in action films the female lead runs the risk of either being too underdeveloped, or just too obnoxious. Thankfully Dawson is neither, but rather a fitting counterpart for our heroes to work with. Walken has some truly great moments playing the evil slave-driving king of town.  Whether he's casually meeting Beck, or bossing around his soldiers, the lines he delivers are almost always priceless. It's good to see a bad guy with so much character. Overall THE RUNDOWN is a great mindless action flick. Berg directs with such swift style that it never becomes trite, no matter how familiar the material may be. One of the coolest aspects is actually with the henchmen that Beck fights.  Certain soldiers have their own unique traits that make them different from your average fist-fodder. One guy in particular uses whips to fight with, which makes for a very interesting duel later in the film.  The film is rated PG-13, so the violence never gets too rough. You could almost call this an action-comedy, as there are many moments of good laughter throughout. I just call it a good time at the movies.

Images copyright UNIVERSAL PICTURES 2003.

BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give THE RUNDOWN a 9.


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