Revisited: The Rundown

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Beck (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is a “retrieval expert”, a bounty hunter who collects debts for a man named Walker (William Lucking). He is dispatched to a nightclub to retrieve a championship ring from a football player, and after doing so is assaulted by one of Walker’s other collectors. Angry, he confronts Walker and tells him that wants out of the business. Walker talks him into one last bounty – retrieve Walker’s son Travis (Seann William Scott) from a small mining town in Brazil and Walker will give him enough money to open his own restaurant. Beck accepts and leaves for Brazil. When Beck arrives in the town of El Dorado he meets with the man running the mining operation, Mr. Hatcher (Christopher Walken). Hatcher gives Beck his blessing to grab Travis, but reneges when he finds out that Travis has discovered a missing golden artifact called “El Gato do Diabo”. Beck confronts Hatcher and his men in the local bar and leaves with Travis. On the way back to the airfield, Travis forces their Jeep off the road and into the jungle. There he tries to escape but is re-captured by Beck. After an unfortunate encounter with some local monkeys the two find themselves in the camp of the local resistance.

At the resistance encampment, Travis convinces the rebels that Beck works for Hatcher and was sent to kill them all. After a prolonged fight, Beck gains the upper hand before the rebel leader Mariana (Rosario Dawson) intervenes. She wants Travis, as the Gato can be used to ensure the locals can free themselves from Hatcher. Hatcher suddenly attacks the camp, killing many rebels. Beck, Travis, and Mariana escape the camp and Beck makes Mariana a deal: she helps him get Travis to the airfield in exchange for the Gato. After some searching, Travis leads them to a cave behind a waterfall where the Gato is located. They retrieve it and begin the journey back.

On the way back, Mariana chastises Travis for wanting to sell the artifact, but Travis argues that he actually did want to give it to a museum. Mariana gives the two men Konlobos, a toxic fruit that paralyzes the eater. As she tells Beck which direction the airfield is, she leaves them with the fire to keep the animals away. After waking up able to move, Beck hauls Travis to the airfield. The local pilot, Declan (Ewen Bremner), tells Beck that Mariana was captured earlier by Hatcher and will probably be killed. Travis pleads with Beck to help, and the two head into town to rescue her. Using a cow stampede for cover, the two begin their assault on Hatcher’s goons. Travis becomes trapped by gunfire in a bus, and Beck saves him before the bus explodes. Hatcher tells his brother to take Mariana and the Gato and flee, but they are stopped by Travis. Hatcher confronts Beck, who offers him the chance to leave town still. Hatcher refuses, and is confronted by the townspeople who shoot him before he can leave. Travis gives the Gato to Mariana before leaving with Beck, who tells him that despite all they’ve been through he must still return Travis to the US. Back in the U.S., Travis is delivered to his dad who begins to verbally and physically abuse him. Beck asks to celebrate with them and gives Walker and his men Konlobos. As they are paralyzed, Beck uncuffs Travis and the duo leave together, with Travis continuing to jokingly annoy Beck.

REVIEW:

The Scorpion King may have been the film that started action career of The Rock, but it was The Rundown that really laid the foundation for him as a movie star that has been doing nothing but getting brighter and brighter (even when he was doing those family movies like The Game Plan). For some reason, though, this is one of those films that seems to be forgotten, though.

What is this about?

Looking to retire and open a restaurant, a bounty hunter named Beck gets roped into one final assignment: fetching his employer’s errant son from the Amazon jungle. Along the way, Beck finds himself involved in a treasure hunt and a rebel uprising.

What did I like?

Action. Earlier today, I was listening to a review of the Indiana Jones collection on Blu-ray. Not long after, I started watching this. What is the connection? Well, in a way, they are both action packed and set mostly in the jungle (not all Indy movies are set in the jungle, remember). The Rock at this point in time was still a wrestler turning actor not an actor who was a wrestler and occasionally goes back to appease the ungrateful fans. As a fan of The Rock during his heyday in WWE, I noticed a few of his moves, especially in the club scene. The jungle fights though were a bit more inclusive of all different types of fighting. I guess it is kind of hard to Rock Bottom or give the People’s Elbow to little men flying around and kicking your ass with their speed.

Connection. The Rock and Sean William Scott have a nice chemistry that works very well throughout the course of the film. Scott’s character provides much of the film’s comedy, as expected from him, and The Rock is the straight man to his antics. A tried and true formula, to be sure, but it is one of those that works, so why question it? I think we can all admit we’ve seen this formula in other films and it doesn’t quite work as well as advertised.

The Dawson. When we first come across Rosario Dawson’s character in the bar, you just assume she’s eye candy. To a certain extent she is, considering how she is the only female in this cast, except for background ladies in the village, town, and club. With that in mind, it isn’t long before she shows her true colors as a rebel who wants to find the El Gato so that she can free her people from the evil hands of Christopher Walken’s character, who I believe he bought and runs the town, but I’m not 100% sure what his definitive relationship with it is. Dawson is a tour de force, if you will, in this role, even taking on a Brazilian (subtitles said she was speaking Portuguese) accent and speaking the language in a couple of spots. Something else of note is that there is no romantic relationship with either The Rock or Scott’s character. This is noteworthy because it shows that not every action film needs a woman for the guy to fall for or a girl to fall for the guy that rescues her, or any other scenario you want to cook up. Dawson’s character gets the job done and then goes about her merry way, rather than forcing us to deal with some useless relationship drama and convoluting the film with thoughts, feelings, and whatnot.

What didn’t I like?

Jungle danger. Maybe I watch too many cartoons, but I half expected to see more in the way of dangers in the jungle. Other than a trap set by the rebels, the howler monkeys, and konlobos fruit that was given to them by Rosario Dawson’s character, there weren’t any natural dangers and I just don’t understand why that was. Surely, something could have come up. Oh, there was the mention of those piranha that swim up penis holes, but nothing came of that, either.

Guns. The whole film, The Rock’s character makes it perfectly clear that he doesn’t like guns and will not use them because of something that happened. When he does use them “you wouldn’t like the person I become”, or something to that effect. The this is, near the film’s end he has no choice but to pick up a gun, which he does and owns that shootout like the hero in a western! Apparently, something happened in his past,  which perhaps could give us the dark tale of how he got into the bounty hunter game. I would like to know why it is he has issues with guns. At least Batman has an excuse, he watched his parents get gunned down when he was a little boy. What is this guy’s reason?

Shut up! While the final shootout is going on, the pilot is spouting off some kind of mumbo jumbo gibberish that no one really is paying attention to. I guess the best way to describe it would be to think of those old blues singers that cameras often pan to in certain movies when the hero has a revelation that makes them become the hero. It was sort of like that, as The Rock’s character was picking up the guns. In theory, it should have worked, but the way it was shot and the fact that what he was saying made no sense derailed it from doing so.

In the years since The Rundown, The Rock has decided to go by his real name and now goes by both his real and ring name. He has also become a big star, literally and figuratively. This film may not be the greatest, but as an action flick it is good fun and it served as a nice big stepping stone for The Rock. Do I recommend this? Yes, very much so! Some people won’t care for it that much because the parts that try to be a more serious-minded film, rather than just a fun action flick don’t seem to work that well, but it still is something that you should check out sometime. As a matter of fact, it seems as if this is always on Spike TV. So, there go, give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

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