The Rundown (2003) / Action-Comedy

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence and some crude dialogue
Running Time: 104 min.

Cast: Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock), Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewan Bremmer
Director:  Peter Berg
Screenplay: R.J. Stewart, James Vanderbilt

Review published September 28, 2003

Sometimes it's the casting that makes or breaks a movie, and in casting The Rock (The Scorpion King, Be Cool) as the good guy and Christopher Walken (Gigli, Kangaroo Jack) as the bad, you're already halfway successful to making a fun, exciting movie.  The Rundown is a pretty dumb film, but knows it is, and director Peter Berg (Very Bad Things) wisely plays almost everything for laughs, making this an escapist romp that's not too dark or violent to enjoy.

The Rundown casts The Rock as a bounty hunter named Beck, sent to the Amazon jungles of Brazil to return his boss' son back to the United States.  His intended quarry is Travis (Scott, American Wedding), who has been spending most of his time trying to find a priceless gold statue before the local excavators (run by Walken) can get their hands on it.  In the mix is a small but ferocious band of guerrilla fighters, who also want to get their hands of the treasure to fund their war for independence.

The Rundown makes no pretense in being anything other than a deliver-the-goods action vehicle, and plays every scene to deliver action or laughs, and in many cases, both.  it isn't the funniest buddy flick you've seen, nor the most stunning in action, but Berg and company mixes the two just right, and the result makes for good, low-brow entertainment.  It's all formula stuff, but fueled with high-octane adventure and lots of tongue-in-cheek silliness.

If you're in the mood for a modest, fast-moving actioner, The Rundown should deliver in every area you expect, so long as your expectations don't run too high.  Fans of The Rock will be the most pleased, as his intelligence, physique and good-natured charisma gives his character a dimension unseen since Schwarzenegger's heyday.  Move over Diesel, Seagal, Van Damme and the rest...it's time to bring the fun back in macho action movies again.  

 Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo