The Rundown

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The Rundown
Review (7/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

In the opening scene of The Rundown, Beck (The Rock) walks into a club and passes Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger nods at Beck and says "Have a good time". Some may see this as a sort of passing of the torch from one of the great action heroes of the last 15 years to quite possibly Hollywood's next great action hero. Only time will tell.

Beck proceeds to enter the club and pound on the entire starting defensive line (or was that the offensive line?) of an NFL team in order to get to the team's quarterback, who owes Beck's boss an outstanding gambling debt. Beck is a self-described "retrieval expert" - a man who is paid to retrieve money, gambling debts or his boss's son. He often gives his victims two choices - A) give Beck what he wants or B) give Beck what he wants with pain. There is no C. Beck wants out of the retrieval business but he has one final assignment. He must bring his boss's son Travis (Seann William Scott) to Los Angeles from the deep, dark jungles of the Amazon. Travis spends his time in a mining town called El Dorado and in the jungle searching for an ancient artifact that is worth millions of dollars. The town is run by a violent tyrant named Hatcher (Christopher Walken), who is ruthlessly evil but at the same time sarcastically funny. So as the story goes, Beck wants Travis, Travis wants the artifact and the evil Hatcher also wants the artifact but wants Travis to do all the footwork at which point he will just take it from him - with pain. Mariana (Rosario Dawson) is also along for the ride as Travis's apparent love interest and has a couple of other deep, dark secrets. There's horny monkeys in the movie too.

After seeing The Scorpion King, I noted that The Rock "has a screen presence that gives you no choice but to love the guy. He's charismatic, funny and he has pretty good timing". The Rundown only serves to reinforce those statements. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has come a long way since living on a used mattress and being a struggling football player in the Canadian Football League. He has now established himself as a legitimate A-list actor and his performance in The Rundown will not hurt this standing. The Rock delivered when it came to action, violence, muscles, humor and drama - he gives us what we want to see and so much more. Having Stifler at his side and Christopher Walken chasing him through the jungle made the movie just that much more enjoyable. The Rock and Stifler share an on-screen chemistry that is almost effortless. I found Stifler to be much more humorous in this movie than he was in his trademark movie from earlier in the summer, American Wedding. Walken is also in a role in which he flourishes - the ruthless bad guy who can deliver a hilarious soliloquy without blinking an eye. He did it in True Romance, he even did it in Gigli and in true Christopher Walken form, he does it again in The Rundown. Despite Walken's vile behavior, it is almost difficult to not like his character, Hatcher. I prefer to hate the bad guy but the movie has so much more to offer that I was able to overlook Hatcher's likeability. One other thing I would have liked changed was the bit about Beck not liking guns. Not that I would have liked more guns in the movie but I would have liked to have known WHY he hated guns. I don't think we ever really find out the reason.

Nevertheless, The Rundown is a fun ride. It is a good action-comedy and it features a strong cast. The movie drops its own subtle tributes - a short of passing of the torch featuring Schwarzenegger and a sweet little Johnny Cash number - which will bring smiles to many faces. The Rock also gets to show off a few of his famous wrestling moves in a couple of different sequences and I am certain at one point he even raised the People's Eyebrow. Unfortunately, for wrestling fans, it looks like The Rock will be staying away from wrestling for quite some time. I saw him on David Letterman the other night and he said he was done with wrestling, so you can take that for whatever it is worth. But on the bright side, it seems like Arnie himself has anointed the next great action movie hero and judging from The Rock's work in The Rundown, we're going to be in for some great ass-kicking fun in the near future.

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