Mon, Feb 19, 2018 07:48 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-10-03 life & times
The Rundown is showcase for action and comedy, little drama
Cletus Turner

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When the sequel to The Mummy was proposed, I rather liked the idea of The Rock playing the Scorpion King. When the franchise's producers decided to beef up The Rock and have him headline his own The Scorpion King, I again trudged to the theater to watch. I must admit, if I had left after the first five minutes - which I almost did - I would have missed a rather enjoyable film.

Now, The Rock headlines a film that isn't part of a franchise. The Rundown is a surprisingly good movie. Rock plays the part of Beck, a man for hire who chases people down who owe money to his boss. The tone of the movie is set as Beck sits listening to a cooking show while waiting for his quarry to come into sight. Beck enters a night club to face the quarry, who happens to be part of a professional football team. The football player has several offensive and defensive linemen, in other words BIG men, protecting him. Beck plows through the defense and forces the football player.

Beck takes the Super bowl ring he got from the football player, but loses it in the parking lot when he is attacked by another of his bosses men.

Beck is to go to Brazil and find Travis Walker, the son of his boss. Walker, played by Sean William Scott, is a treasure hunter looking for a priceless artifact. Beck proceeds to go to Brazil where he runs into a man named Hatcher who practically owns all of the jungle and people around him. He pays the people who dig for him around 65 cents per day then rents them the equipment they need to work for more than they are paid. The people are forced to work for what amounts to slave labor.

Beck is forced to pay Hatcher $10,000 just to retrieve Travis. When Travis tries to fight his way out of the situation, which is quite funny by the way, Beck handcuffs him. Unfortunately, Hatcher has found out that Travis has finally found where the religious artifact is. Beck fights his way out of the situation and heads to the airstrip to take Travis back to Los Angeles. Travis has other ideas and forces the jeep off the road.

A band of rebels who are trying to get the people from under Hatcher's tyranny catch Beck and Travis. The leader, Marianna, played by the incomparable Rosario Dawson, plans to help Beck, but only after the artifact is found. Beck gets Travis, the rebels get the artifact and the money, and Travis, well, as he says it, gets screwed.

Hatcher, in the meantime, has search parties out trying to find Travis and Beck. They come up on the rebels and several are killed, but Travis, Beck and Marianna escape. They head for the artifact.

You might think about Indiana Jones and his adventures because there is a nod to that series at this point. The way the three are actually able to get the artifact is pretty fun.

As an action/adventure film, this one can get rather cerebral at times. For instance, Beck and one of the rebels get into a conversation about who would win if Mike Tyson would go up against Muhammad Ali. Yes, we're talking sports here, but the reasons given for an Ali win are reasonable and I'm not a boxing fan. If I can get it, most anybody can.

Even better is Christopher Walken. Man, that guy can make any role believable. He is at his best as the villain. Walken's last great movie was Catch Me If You Can, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. This one shows just how he can adjust to any role. His explanation about the tooth fairy was just about as cool as a person can get.

Rock, Scott and Dawson do a very good job of acting considering that Rock and Dawson aren't really known for their acting and Scott has been portrayed as a one-note actor. In this role, Scott actually has his funny moments and can display a little drama. Little because most of this film is action and comedy with little room for drama.

It is amazing that I went into this film with little hope of actually liking it. I expected it to be dumb and not funny at all. However, there were some really good moments and the characters were actually likable. Rock showed that he can act somewhat and Scott showed he can do more than be Stifler.

Dawson is perhaps one of the better actresses I have seen in quite a while. She surprised me and I like surprises.

In the end, that is exactly what this film is, a surprise. It can make you laugh and it can keep you on the edge of your seat. It knows when to slow down and let you breathe, then speed up the action so fast that you think you are on a roller coaster. The little things are the important things in this film. The porchini mushrooms, the tooth fairy and Scott's speech about thunder and lightening are perfect. They give the characters a feel of being more than just a one-dimensional slug fest that has no heart, no brains, and thinks that is just what the audience wants. In actuality, the film lets the audience come along for the ride without making them feel silly and like the producers think only dumb people would want to watch the film. The Rock has picked a good way of exposing himself to the public and I think this film will be a good springboard into other acting arenas. If the producers decide to turn this into a franchise, I would probably be one who would want to follow Beck's exploits.

Overall, The Rundown is a pretty good movie with heart, brains, and a little porchini mushrooms on the side.

4 suns

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