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151 SEPTEMBER 25, 2003
  'The Rundown' Rocks Popcorn Action
  By Jordan Scrivner

“The Rundown”
Universal Pictures
Directed by Peter Berg
Written by R.J. Stewart and James Vanderbilt
Produced by Marc Abraham, Karen Glassner and Kevin Misher
Starring The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries, William Lucking and Ernie Reyes Jr.
Rated PG-13

(out of 4)

Christopher Walken plays the villain to The Rock's hero in the fun action film 'The Rundown.'  

It should be obvious what kind of movie “The Rundown” is just by looking at its cast. Basically it’s about a reluctant hero named Beck (Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock from WWE), a “retrieval expert” trying to track down a man named Travis Walker (Seann William Scott, aka Stifler from the “American Pie” movies) while the evil Hatcher (Christopher Walken, aka Christopher Fuckin’ Walken) tries to track them both. Meanwhile, there’s some stuff about an ancient gold relic and a bunch of South American rebels led by a beautiful woman with perfect teeth named Mariana (Rosario Dawson, aka the girl who didn’t get AIDS in “Kids”) and a ridiculously buff little guy named Manito (Ernie Reyes Jr., aka Kino from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II”).

In other words, “The Rundown” is fun, brainless popcorn fare. Don’t ask why The Rock’s character has a strong dislike for guns or how two people can literally fall off the side of a mountain and walk away with nothing more than a few cuts and bruises. Don’t wonder how Hatcher gained so much power in Brazil or whether or not he received all of those guns from the CIA. Imagine you’re watching Saturday morning cartoons—relax.

That said, “The Rundown” is a very entertaining action-comedy with some clever one-liners, neat explosions and characters who make breaking the laws of physics look easy. Where else but in “The Rundown” can you see Christopher Walken look directly into the camera and say, in all seriousness, “That’s a lot of cows.”

Also, let it be known that The Rock is quite possibly the future of action-genre heroes. In fact, there is a subtle cameo by a certain gubernatorial politician that insinuates a passing of the torch. As The Rock’s character is entering a posh L.A. dance club, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is just leaving the party, tells the Rock to “have fun.” OK, ignore the obvious play to gain free publicity—I still thought the scene was clever. I told you it’s necessary to turn your brain off in order to enjoy this movie.

Although The Rock is Hollywood’s new action star, his character, Beck, is a hero in a more classical sense. He lives by his own code of ethics—a sort of pseudo-Bushido, man-on-his-horse, his-way-or-the-highway sort of deal—and does not go around looking for trouble. Instead…trouble finds him.

The Rock doesn’t want to spend his days beating the shit out of football players and people who owe others money. He just wants to settle down, lead a quiet life and open his own restaurant. Throughout the movie, Beck does everything he can to avoid getting into a fight. In fact, if The Rock has a catchphrase in this movie, it’s probably, “I do not want to fight you. We are not fighting.”

But, of course, Beck gets into a lot of fights. Usually this is because of Walker, the man Beck has been sent to track down for $250,000, a chance at a new life and the opportunity to open his own restaurant.
By this point, Beck and Walker’s relationship is pretty standard. At first, the two men hate each other. Then they realize they can help each other out and thus become friends. It’s a typical situation in countless great buddy-action films, from “Stagecoach” to “Rush Hour.” The movie also boasts some great broad comedy too—from Walker’s Thunder-and-Lightnin’ routine to “American Pie”-style gross-out humor (one word: bestiality).

There are a few times when “The Rundown” loses gas. One scene in particular just feels like an uninspired and uncreative way of paying homage to the Indiana Jones films. And, like many good action films, it would have been nice to know a little bit more about the characters—why does Walker need to go back to L.A. again? Why exactly does Beck have a fear of guns? Oh well, questions like this will be answered in the inevitable sequel, “The Rundown II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold.”

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