In the opening scene, The Rock walks through a trendy nightclub, on his way to beating the shit out of the entire offensive line of a NFL team, when Arnold Schwarzenegger passes him by and says: “Have fun.” The implications of this cameo are obvious: the Austria Oak is not getting any younger and someone needs to take on putting foot to ass on the big screen. For a while Vin Diesel seemed the man for the job, but these days The Rock looks perfect for the part. “The Rundown” is no masterpiece, but it’s a good showcase for the former wrestler’s impressive physical prowess and decent comic timing.
The Rock plays Beck, a “retrieval expert” who’s hired to go to a gold mine deep into the Amazon jungle and bring back his mob employer’s no-good son. Played by Seann William Scott, Travis is in El Dorado searching for a priceless artifact. Beck finds him pretty easily, but it’s the bringing back part that’s harder, as this odd couple find themselves stuck between the gold mine owner (Christopher Walken)’s thugs and freedom fighters led by Rosario Dawson who want the artifact for themselves.
Beck keeps talking about how he doesn’t give any breaks, and he won’t use guns because bad things happen when he does, and all he wants is to do what he was hired for, get the hell out of this hellhole and use his paycheck to open a restaurant… So we know that he’ll end up giving breaks, getting involved with the freedom fighters and picking up shotguns, of course. But even though you can guess where this run(down)-of-the-mill adventure plot is going, that doesn’t mean that getting there isn’t enjoyable.
The characters are one-dimensional but the cast is pleasant enough. The Rock knows how to be menacing but he’s also willing to be in on the joke, Seann William Scott is still playing a variation of Stifler but it hasn’t grown tired (to me, at least), Rosario Dawson doesn’t do much but she looks good not doing it and Christopher Walken is a treat, like always, giving another of his demented performances, milking every drop of oddness out of dialogue he seems to be making up on the spot:
“I feel like… a little boy who, lost a… tooth and put it under his pillow, for the Tooth Fairy. Only two evil men… crept in my window… and have stolen, my tooth.”
“The Rundown” was directed by Peter Berg, whose first film was the blacker-than-hell Very Bad Things. His latest isn’t as ruthless, but it is still a pretty damn brutal flick with very dynamic visuals and aggressive sound effects. The action scenes are fast and furious and while The Rock gets a lot of licks in, he enters a world of pain himself through the film. He falls down a cliff, is thrown up trees, beat up by little Brazilian dudes who practice a form of “spinning Tarzan Jiu-Jitsu”, whipped… He even gets raped by a monkey! Add a scene where a midget runs out of a bar and that’s worth your 10$, right?