The Rundown

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"Do ya smell what da Rock is cooking?". I looove the over-the-top antics of The Rock (I feel compelled to put a (tm) after the name, just in case you start confusing it with like, a movie starring Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage or maybe a stone at the bottom of your garden, or something). Everytime he says that line, for some reason, I think "Stone Grill Cooking", but that's probably just the anti-WWE fan in me talking.

Anyway, I thought he was more than passable in The Scorpion King (it was fun, over-the-top, exciting) and liked enough of the trailer (it looked fun, over-the-top, exciting) to The Rundown to give it a shot.

The Rock (real name: Dwayne Douglas Johnson) stars as Beck, a "retrieval expert" who, as the opening sequence shows, excels at taking things from people who don't want to give them up in the first place. Despite the violent nature of his job, he's actually a swell guy, who abhors violence as a resort (especially the use of guns) and all he wants to do is to set up a nice little restaurant, maybe ten, twelve tables, and presumably make something that smells good in the kitchen. The only thing that stops him is that he is deep in debt and thus takes less palatable work to work himself out of it. Hey, not my script, you know.

He finally gets given his chance when his boss asks him to fly down to Brazil to retrieve his son, Travis (Seann Willam Scott). If he does this, all debts are wiped out and he can fulfill his culinary dreams.

He flies into the jungle, but as you may expect, the job is not as simple as it seems. The whole area is under the control of Hatcher (Christopher Walken) who runs a massive mining operation in the jungle and considers the local populace to be convenient labour. Hatcher knows about Travis and has let him look on his land for the legendary El Gato Diablo, an incredibly valuable piece of treasure made of gold and goodness-knows. (Incidentally, El Gato Diablo is also slang for crystal methamphetamine, but I don't think that that's relevant to this film.)

Beck also makes the acquaintance of Mariana (played by Rosario Dawson - remember her in Josie and the Pussycats? Nah, neither did I) and Declan the pilot who flies Beck into this god-forsaken place. Declan is played by Ewen Bremner, who I do remember from Trainspotting and who in this film mangles the English language by being a Scotsman who plays an Irishman. Why did he have to be Irish? Because Scots are not happy-go-lucky? A Scotsman would certainly patch up his plane with duct tape.

So, got all that? Beck is the hero, Hatcher is the bad guy, Travis is the buddy rogue with the heart of gold (albeit a clumsy and nerdish rogue), Mariana is the feminine distraction and Declan is the plucky sidekick.

The plot, from now on, can be guessed by anyone who has been raised on Hollywood films: Beck flies in, finds Travis, tries to leave with him, gets stopped by Hatcher and a reluctant Travis, bumps into Mariana who then helps him and Travis find the El Gato Diablo and then altogether they stop Hatcher and his evil mining company ways.

But it's all so fun watching them do this. Really. The fight scenes are great, Christopher predictably hams it up and the banter between Beck and Travis is side-splitting at times. And that's about all you need for a good action film.

It's really good to see that people can still put a lot of thought and care into a film like this. All too often, you might think, "Ah, B-Grade action movie" and leave it at that, but there's still a lot to be done, and this movie does it well. Of course, you could argue that The Rock basically lives an action-movie life both off-set and on, but the guy can act as well. And Christopher Walken: priceless. Give that man a life-time Oscar already.

At the end of the day, when you buy a ticket for a movie like The Rundown, what you expect is action and fun, and this is exactly what you get.
posted on Friday, October 31, 2003 - permalink
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