ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The Rundown a good natured action
By Brent Carpenter
Starring: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Sean William Scott, Christopher Walken,
Rosario Dawson, Ewan Bremner
Directed by: Peter Berg
CAN YOU SMELL WHAT
ROCK IS COOKIN'? Sean Williams Scott and Dwayne "The
Rock" Johnson face off in The Rundown.
The Rundown is a well-shot, fast-paced, generally well-acted
Director Peter Berg (Very Bad Things) - keen to give the viewer
something a little different in terms of visuals - has essentially
created a live-action cartoon. It is loud, the characters are
caricatures, the action is overblown, but it's all in the name
The problem here seems to be that in their attempt to hit
every demographic, the studio (along with Berg) may actually
wind up alienating their most important age-group - action-hungry
teens and young adults.
With The Rundown, you're basically getting the most gee-golly-good-natured-mom-and-pop-pleasing
popcorn-flick this side of Space Jam (was that an action movie?).
It's unfortunate, but it still doesn't necessarily make for
a boring time at the multiplexes.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as Beck, a "retrieval expert" sent
by his shady employer to the small mining town of El Dorado,
Brazil. Apparently, his boss' son Travis (Stifler) has gotten
himself into trouble with the wrong people and would be better
off at home with his criminal dad.
Upon his arrival in El Dorado, it takes Beck about three seconds
to find Travis and about three and a half to get them both
into trouble. See, the town is run by the mysterious Hatcher
(Walken), a despotic loonie-bin who has built a gold-mining
Hatcher is well aware Travis is close to discovering an ancient
artifact called El Gato (don't ask) and will do anything to
ensure it winds up in his possession. This leads to an entertaining
confrontation in the local bar (run by Dawson's Mariana) between
our heroes and Hatcher's henchman, that ultimately leaves Beck
and Travis lost.
The obvious contradictions in character between Beck and Travis
is played up (and some may argue, played out) pretty quickly.
The actors have good chemistry onscreen, but the script never
really allows them to get beyond the clichéd "I can't believe
I'm lost in the jungle with THIS guy" banter.
Also, there's nothing even close to resembling sexuality,
unless you count Dawson's natural appearance or perhaps the
scene in which Beck has to help the handcuffed Travis "go pee."
The action in the film, though bloodless, is still entertaining
for the most part. You see, Beck doesn't like guns. In a refreshing
move for the action genre, guns aren't used by the screenwriter
as a lazy way for the hero to dispatch bad guys.
Instead, courtesy of Chinese fight choreographer Andy Cheng,
we get a strangely entertaining and hard-hitting mix of hand-to-hand
and wire-aided combat. Don't worry, the "wire-fu" usually doesn't
call attention to itself and when it does, it doesn't really
affect the film in a negative way.
In the end, The Rundown seems most successful in convincing
movie-goers The Rock is the real deal. It is far too early
to tell whether he will put together a filmography to rival
his pal Ah-Nuld, but based upon what we've seen so far, he
has a pretty good shot.
As far as the film itself goes, all the talent involved (especially
the hilariously odd Walken) seem to be having fun. The movie
moves at a brisk pace and rarely drags - younger kids and their
parents will love it. It may be a little light and goofy for
the young-adult crowd, but then again - it all depends on what
you're looking for.