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The Rundown
2003 - PG-13 - 90 Mins.
Director: Peter Berg
Producer: Kevin Misher
Written By: James Vanderbilt
Starring: The Rock, Seann William Scott, Christopher Walken, Rosario Dawson
Review by: Harrison Cheung
   
Enjoyable but immediately forgettable, THE RUNDOWN is like a macho remake of ROMANCING THE STONE, the 1984 hit with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. Directed by Chicago Hope actor, Peter Berg, THE RUNDOWN follows Beck (The Rock), a disgruntled bounty hunter who is anxious to start his own restaurant, on the hunt for Travis (Seann William Scott) the wayward son of his mafia boss who is hunting for ancient Mayan treasure. In the deepest, darkest rain forest of Brazil, Beck comes across a mining town with the world's largest pit mine ruled by a local corporate chief played with psychotic restraint by Christopher Walken.

Peter Berg, who showed off his directing skills in the wicked black comedy, VERY BAD THINGS, continues to demonstrate competency with THE RUNDOWN. It's a snappy buddy movie in the tradition of LETHAL WEAPON and it's got the most gorgeous jungle scenery this side of JURASSIC PARK.

But what THE RUNDOWN lacks are any particularly sharp edges or surprises. It's not as funny as a LETHAL WEAPON or a ROMANCING THE STONE, and because the two main characters are guys, there aren't any sexual sparks flying as Beck and Travis make their way in various states of undress through the jungle. Rosario Dawson, as a bartender/rebel soldier, is the token female (she has barely registerable sparks with both Travis and Beck), but you almost get the feeling that either due to editing, script constraints or political correctness, she keeps out of the way from the male bonding taking place. Both The Rock and Seann William Scott bare much more skin than Dawson does - and both guys get in jokes about their penises.

THE RUNDOWN has a great cast - including Walken and Scottish oddity, Ewen Bremner (TRAINSPOTTING), in an obvious homage to the 'copter pilot in ROAD WARRIOR. But Walken, who could have chewed up the scenery in a role like this capitalist-gone-mad mayor/warden, is also disappointingly restrained as if to not upstage the stars. That's a shame because, in his odd-fitting clothes and his over-sized hat, Walken at times looks like he wants to channel Brando's Dr. Moreau.

Peter Berg's first movie, VERY BAD THINGS, was a character-driven project - it's almost as if THE RUNDOWN, with its location, big cast, big stunts and big sets, were just a little too much for Berg to handle. There are some interesting visual effects that treat the opening of the movie like a sportscast but overall THE RUNDOWN looks and feels like something you've seen before. Even the poster looks like an OCEANS ELEVEN/ITALIAN JOB rehash. An Indiana Jones movie? Another sequel to ROMANCING THE STONE? Better safe than sorry although it's disappointing that Berg didn't play with the movie's potential twists.

But overall, THE RUNDOWN is a fun movie to watch and probably a great movie to rent to test out those home theater systems. There are some stunts that sound like those THX, Dolby Digital theater sound checks with debris flying overhead and just behind your seat. The Rock is a charming giant and Seann William Scott is like a younger Jim Carrey with a similarly flexible face that goes from sour to goofy in seconds.

The Rock, who flexed his box office muscles in THE SCORPION KING, has wisely chosen a project that injects humor into an action movie. His performance is fine - one part shirtless muscle, one part angry glare and the occasional exasperated look of pain. It's a lesson that Arnold Schwarzenegger learned early in his career, deftly moving from muscle-head Conan to lighter fare like TWINS. Who knows, The Rock could be a future governor of California!
 
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

 
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