Catch The Rundown

Oct. 1, 2003, midnight | By Josh Gottlieb-Miller | 20 years, 1 month ago

He can't be stopped. Not by NFL linemen, not by South American rebels, not by evil, lunatic villains. It turns out The Rock is a force of nature (although, taking a page from Washington Post movie reviewer Stephen Hunter, I think I'll call him by his given name, Dwayne Johnson, because he's no hammy wrestler in this movie).

A Retrieval Expert, Johnson's reliable Beck proves expert at getting his man, or at least the collateral they owe, which in the case of one gambling football player makes for one excellent early fight scene. Unlike most action heroes though, Beck's always just wanted to be a chef. His despicable boss promises him the funding needed to start his restaurant if he'll bring his son (Seann William Scott's unpredictable Travis Walker) back from the boy's unexpected and unappreciated treasure-hunting adventure in the Amazon.

Soon enough Beck's found the boy, but his return is complicated by Travis' reluctance to leave until he's obtained the mythical golden El Gato de Diabo, a priceless, lost artifact (or to leave after that either). Along the way they must overcome the local overlord (Christopher Walken)—a tyrannical gold-mining kingpin—and his opposites, rebels in favor of higher wages, or the Gato (de Diabo) that Travis claims to have located.

Fortunately, the relatively simple movie is smart enough not to get seriously caught up in complex world poverty issues (though it's admirable for painting a realistic picture). Instead Director Peter Berg delivers a basic action comedy elevated by its wonderful cast and tight fight scenes.

Johnson is the new action hero, and his honestly straight-faced countenance makes his every spectacular fight—if not believable, then less ridiculous. Doing most of his own stunts allows the moviegoer to believe in Beck as the "quintessential reluctant hero" (as described in the production notes). He abhors using guns because they "take him to a bad place," and instead uses his speed, power and wits to take on all comers, with "No breaks" for the pleading Travis.

Remarkably, his comic timing is just as good as his stunt work, and Johnson's chemistry with funnyman sidekick Scott makes for a number of good running jokes. When Scott's Travis is surprised to find out Beck doesn't use guns, he nags him about it relentlessly. Travis eventually plays his trump card, "What if you had to use a gun to save your best friend? Even Santa Claus would use a gun to save his best friend."

"I'm not Santa Claus," is Beck's deadpan response.

The spectacular cast is rounded out by the versatile, always amusing Christopher Walken and the beautiful Rosario Dawson. Walken's Hatcher is a perfectly clever and villainous man; his every little smirks following hilarious non-sequitors. Watching Walken explain the Tooth Fairy to his subordinate cronies alone is worth the price of admission. Dawson's mysterious Mariana is also stellar, a strong female lead that can handle humor and a gun, and she develops into a great role model for young girls.

The only drawback for The Rundown, an otherwise very well made action comedy is that it borders on the ludicrous at points. Things fall down a lot in this movie. People, ceilings, ceilings on people. Despite this, everyone remains almost perfectly healthy, shaking off the kind of injuries that would kill most men.

As Beck would put it you have two options. Option A: You see The Rundown. Option B: You miss out until one of your friends drags you to see The Rundown. So go see The Rundown and save your friends the trouble.

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