During the opening of The Rundown an interesting thing happens; Arnold Schwarzenegger appears and growls “Have fun” to The Rocks character whilst passing in a corridor – It’s an inspired moment and acts as a passing of the action-hero mantel from the aging action luminaries to the new kid on the action block.
Beck (Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock) is a bounty hunter indebted to an ill tempered bail bonds man. Beck dreams of owning his own restaurant and in-between hunting down marks he notes recipes in anticipation of the day when he’s free from debt.
As always, the offer of one last job finally comes up and Beck is offered a deal to allow his slate to be wiped clean; bring back his boss’s son who was last seen in South America.
Soon Beck is off to the Amazon to find and bring back the boss’s son Travis (Sean William Scott). Travis spends his time between two places, El Dorado and deep within the jungles of the Amazon searching for an ancient precious artefact. Needless to say, he’s not keen on returning to Los Angeles with Beck and does everything in his power to hinder the big guy.
Things go from bad to worse for Beck when not only has he got to contend with a slippery quarry, he’s also got to contend with Hatcher. Hatcher (Christopher Walken) is the cruel and sadistic owner of El Dorado, who feels that whatever Travis has found in ‘Hatchers’ jungle rightfully belongs to him.
Beck soon discovers that chasing his quarry through the jungle with an army of mercenaries on his tail isn’t his idea of fun. Can he stay alive long enough to get his slate clean?
The Rundown is a no-brainer action movie with enough laughs to keep the masses appeased. Ignoring the lame bravado, there is enough charisma from the two leads to keep the film going at a good pace. Wayne Johnston has one great advantage over his action forefathers and that is charisma and more than two facial expressions (although the infamous People’s Eyebrow look does pop in a few times). Sean William Scott is playing out the same character that he always seems to do – the cocky idiot (think American Pie’s Stifler loose in the jungle). Luckily it still works for him, but how long for is anyone’s guess. Mind half the stars in Hollywood have been doing the same character for decades!
Christopher Walken is at risk of becoming one the best character actors who ends up doing the same thing time and time again – appears, does a spot of menacing and then a cracking, quirky, psycho-induced speech before departing. Having said that though, he’s still highly entertaining to watch and the whole cast seem to be having a great deal of fun with him.
Director Peter Berg is better known as an actor but he still manages to direct a fun movie, even if it does have a few clichés along the way. Thankfully the audience is spared any forced love scenes between Beck and rebel freedom fighter played by the lovely Rosario Dawson. In fact there is no sex in the film unless you could the monkey loving aspects of the film – and you know that Bash-the-Money fully endorses Monkey Love!
Johnston has been called the new Schwarzenegger, but has the advantage of playing characters that are more likeable than many of those portrayed by the Austrian Oak – after all he’s basically a nice guy forced to be tough. It could be great to see the one or both of them in the planned film King Conan (if it ever gets off the ground!). On the whole The Rundown is a likeable action-comedy romp with enough explosions and fun to keep most action fans happy.
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