Friday, 25 November 2016

BITE-SIZED REVIEW: The Rundown (Peter Berg, 2003)

Released at a time when this kind of R-rated action comedy was going out of style, The Rundown bombed on release but has gained a big following in the years since it left theatres.

The Rock plays Beck, a leg-breaker who dreams of retiring and becoming the owner of his own restaurant. In between cracking heads, he's making notes for recipes. His boss wants him to do one last job -- rescue his wayward son Travis (Seann William Scott), who is galavanting around Brazil.

On arriving at Travis's location, a small mining town nicknamed 'Helldorado', Beck gets on the wrong side of the mine's tyrannical ruler(?), Hatcher (Christopher Walken). It turns out Travis has been hunting for an ancient golden object called El Gato. Hatcher wants the artefact and refuses to let Beck take Travis back to the States.

Beck tries to take Travis anyway, and winds up in the jungle. Cue native martial artists, horny monkeys and Rosario Dawson.  

Also known as Welcome to the Jungle, The Rundown is a great throwback to 80s action flicks. The action is great and over-the-top, the humour sprinkled throughout and His Rockiness makes for a terrific one-man-army action star with charisma to burn.    

Over a decade after it came out, The Rundown remains Dwayne Johnson's best action vehicle. Even with his role in the Fast and Furious movies, no movie has been a better distillation of his humour, physicality or charm than this movie.

The rest of the cast are great. While there are shades of Stifler, Seann William Scott is a great foil for Johnson, while Dawson does her usual thing and classes the movie up as a local bar manager/freedom fighter. Walken has played bad guys before, and he is suitably reptilian as the irredeemable shit who gets in Beck's way.

Peter Berg is an inconsistent director who seems to have gone respectable recently. He's dropped the ball with his later attempts at popcorn fare (Battleship, the second half of Hancock), but The Rundown remains one of his truly great movies. He manages to find a tone and style that suit his inexperienced star, and keeps the whole thing looking good and moving at a clip.

If you are a fan of the Rock, buddy cop movies, or Romancing the Stone, The Rundown is the movie for you.

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