The Rundown
Grade: B+
Year: 2003
Director: Peter Berg
Writer: R.J. Stewart
Genre: Action/Comedy
Rated: PG-13
By Scott Spicciati

Thank Hollywood for "The Rundown," because for a second there I almost though I'd lost all interest in modern action movies. From the opening scene when Arnold Schwarzenegger walks by and sardonically tells The Rock to "have a good time," to Christopher Walken's final monologue in the Brazilian streets, "The Rundown" is a crowd pleaser and people of all ages will have a good time.

The Rock plays Beck, a "retrieval expert" who is sent out to collect gambling debts from fleeing clients. His latest job is to collect from a quarterback who's currently celebrating with his entire offensive line at a glamorous nightclub. This scene is set up to reveal three things about Beck. 1) He is a nice guy as long as you cooperate with him. 2) He can and does beat up the entire offensive line even though he was hesitant because "they've got a chance at repeating this year" 3) He doesn't like guns.

After a successful mission, Beck is sent to Brazil for one last run because he's ready to retire, settle down and open up a restaurant. In a town called El Dorado, Beck is to find his boss's son and safely bring him back to the States. This son's name is Travis Walker who is played by Sean William Scott. Notice I didn't label him "American Pie's" Sean William Scott, or the guy who played Stifler, because he is past that. As a rising actor we know he can still find work since the conclusion of the "American Pie trilogy." Scott has a great on-screen presence will much potential. I forgive him for "Bulletproof Monk."

The Rock, who has come a long way since "The Mummy Returns," is showing signs of serious acting ability, although it is still more comical than serious. But he's improving, and fun to watch on camera whether or not you think he's ready for more demanding lead roles.

Now back to our story:

El Dorado is run by Hatcher (Christopher Walken), a businessman who has enslaved the town's people, forcing them into labor camps and pays them less than a dollar per day. He makes them rent out the shovels they will use to dig for the day, which basically means he makes a complete profit by taking back the money he gives them to satisfy the daily rental fee.

Hatcher doesn't like Beck, and will try to prevent him from taking Travis home. Travis is a fortune seeker and knows the location of a mystic Indian icon that has the ability to unexplainably free the town's people from slavery. A local bartender, Mariana, (Rosario Dawson), is worried about the icon falling into Travis's hands because she fears he will take it back to the States for personal gain. She becomes the third character in the trio including Travis and Beck. Together, they will go on adventures and face local fighting villagers and eventually square off with Hatcher in the final scene.

Just when Beck thinks he has Travis safely secured in his custody, Travis forces their jeep off the side of the cliff, sending the two tumbling down a very long hill that has many protruding branches unkind to the crotch region. But it's funny, yes, even the scene where a monkey humps Beck's leg.

But "The Rundown" isn't just a comedy, there is actually some well-down action scenes. When they find the icon sitting in it's protective cave, Beck and Travis must skillful maneuver around booby-traps put in place by the ancient villagers. It's a basic scene, but it's also what was missing from "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" a movie that I narrowly disapproved of because it lacked the basic essentials of scavenger movies; the old fashioned booby-trap. But "The Rundown" was done right, complete with the necessary action scenes fitted with Sean William Scott level humor.

Reader, if I could only tell you one thing about this movie to convince you that it's worth the admission price, it would be Christopher Walken's Tooth Fairy monologue. He explains to the villagers who don't understand the Tooth Fairy to begin with, what it is like to put a tooth under your pillow only to find…well; you should see it for yourself. Anyone who remembers Walken's "Blue Oyster Cult" skit on Saturday Night Live will relish this scene.

It's unclear why the movie takes such an anti-gun stance, but because of it we get to see how resourceful Beck can be, as he strategically engages enemies doing his best without firearms. But don't worry gun enthusiasts, by the end of the film Beck will have no choice, and when it ends, we understand why he doesn't like guns because it "takes him to a place he doesn't want to go."

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© Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Contact Editor: Scott Spicciati