Rated: PG-13 for action violence, adult language, and sexual references.
Genre: Action Adventure Comedy Fantasy
Directed By: Peter Berg
Running Time: 1:30
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 12/12/04

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"The Rundown" is a landmark film, but not for the reasons you'd think I mean. It's yet another popcorn action flick as far as I'm concerned, but for "The Rock" or Dwayne Johnson, it's a landmark film because it signals his true blossoming into not only a bonafide actor, but as a bonafide action star, an action star who can actually (much to my surprise) pull in a believable performance. He's a star who can play a role and not have his accent come into play like Schwarzenegger, or Stallone.

There's an ironic scene in the movie where the rock passes Arnold Schwarzenneger in a very brief cameo and he says "Have Fun", a declaration in its own way poetic as the rock makes his way into the gallery and pantheon of action stars of the past with "The Rundown". Dwayne Johnson can act, and here he plays reluctant superhero Beck, a free agent on the rundown of a fugitive in the Brazilian jungle who owes some people money.

Travis, is a man whose father wants him back home to pay off his debts and Beck, tired of violence, gives him options on either going easily or roughly. Of course Beck chooses the latter, and now Beck must face off against a vicious mob boss who wants Travis to lead him to a priceless relic, and against the natural dangers of the jungle, and Travis who is less than submissive. I've now forgiven Dwayne for the crap-fest known as "The Scorpion King" and have moved on with my life, because if this is any indicator, he has a good career ahead of him. Director Peter Berg gives great direction, Sean William Scott as a funny sidekick, Rosario Dawson as the enigmatic femme fatale, and Christopher Walken as the villain, who could ask for anything more for a premiere film?

Not to mention "The Rundown" is a lot of fun and just a ballís to the wall guy action flick that audiences will enjoy with great zeal as I did. This is a lot like "Midnight Run" on steroids with a smart plot and some excellent cartoon action that I really enjoyed watching, and the writers pull off a smart feat by giving us the action first and then delve right into the low-key story and periodically give us the action mixed into the story which serves as segues into the action, but it entertaining nonetheless. There is a lot to like here, especially the polar opposite characters of Travis and Beck, both very good characters and very funny with their quick bantering and sharp one-liners, and Sean William Scott is never over the top, thank goodness.

He gives the usual inept charm as he does with each of his roles, but with Dwayne Johnson, it's very funny. Johnson is very good here and one hell of a damn reluctant hero to like with his attitude of non-violence and avoidance towards his enemies, but once he's pushed into a corner he comes out kicking ass into the grass. Christopher Walken pulls the dramatic slack as resident villain here, Hatcher, a vicious mob boss who runs the Brazilian villages, and he's very good here, not to mention there's Dawson who does what she's supposed to as the femme fatale and is great.

There is a lot of well choreographed flashy fight sequences director Berg pulls off well that the audience (as I did) will eat up with a spoon, including the excellent fight with the Brazilian army, and the simply kick ass climax that just screamed "Peckinpagh" (Look it up, lame brain). Berg can direct a damn good movie, and his flashy cuts, and hazy backgrounds make this a lot of fun and a moving comic book. This is a fun action flick for anyone, but guys will love it more. Cheers to Dwayne Johnson who has a long career awaiting him.

I tell you for a movie with such a hyperactive mood, Rosario Dawson sure is a boring character. I don't know if she's supposed to be the straight man because I figured that's what The Rock was for, but she hardly has anything interesting to do in the movie except look good and respond to what's going on around her. And how the hell did she follow and find Beck and Travis so easily when Walken's character and his army couldn't even track them down? She was not a very good character and I just didn't care what happened to her. Also, director Berg seemed to trade a lot of substance for stylish camera shots which doesn't always make for a good action flick. The film's strengths are in its energy throughout the story, and Berg seems to put too much emphasis in the style and camera whips in the choreographed shooting and fighting.

There's a lot to like here. Despite the over flashy sequences and non-existent character depth, this is just a lot of fun to watch with excellent action, funny dialogue, great direction and top notch acting from Dwayne Johnson, Sean William Scott, Rosario Dawson, and Christopher Walken.



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