Saturday, October 04, 2003


The RundownStarring The Rock, Seann William Scott, Christopher Walken, and Rosario Dawn; Directed by Peter Berg, Story and Screenplay by R.J.Stewart

So Friday afternoon, our vice-president Jim Long took us to the movies (there will be a brief pause here as all people reading this in an office gnash their teeth). About twenty of us bounced over to the Galleria to see The Rundown. It was fun, a group activity that got us out of the office.

OK, if you're the type of person who has trouble believing in baboons in the Amazon, or that the music coming out of a Irishman's bagpipes is Scottish, or Asian martial arts actors as indigenous natives, then flee this movie entirely. Its not for you. It will just bounce you out of the roller-coaster ride, which is what this movie is truly about.

The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) is Beck, a "claims expert" working for a bookie. He's only doing it so he can save up for a restaurant, so you know he's a nice guy. His final assignment is to bring back the bookie's son (Seann William Scott, from American Pie, and, um, some MTV Awards shows. The son is in a South American mining town ruled by evil Christopher Walken (redundancy in terms). The son is down there searching for a golden idol, with the help of Rosario Dawn (previous big thing - the good girl eye-candy in MIB II. The Rock goes to the Amazon and wire fu wackiness and explosions ensue.

The Rock is actually a very likeable screen presence, though his character arc is based entirely on the "Push him until he pushes back" model. He's a lot more tolerable than the Terminators and Rambos of the 80s, mixing a bit of Harrison Ford into the mix. Christopher Walken as the bad guy is ... Christopher Walken as a bad guy. You know what you're getting, and he chews the jungle scenery with aplomb, continuing to cash in on his spooky erudite madman schtick.

The Director's last gig was Very Bad Things and has a bad case of MTV quick-cuts, but it moves along the plot well enough. The screenwriter is out of Xena and Cleopatra 2525, so the action is along those lines, but with a bigger budget. The humor is along those lines as well. The best gag in the movie is in the opening, where The Rock has to get a Superbowl Ring off a deadbeat pro quarterback at a club, who is partying with his offensive line. As his cronies are introduced, they get a Monday Night Football heads-up display with their stats. Transposition of that bit onto the screen sets up an easy acceptance for the rest.

The plot moves along. You know what's going to happen in the way of major plot points, like a gymnast's routine at the Olympics. The only questions is how its delivered. Its wire-assisted martial arts sections are neat, its explosions are digitally enhanced, and in some places its special effects just suck out loud. However The Rock is a rock, holding the center of the movie together. He can do more, and is growing as an actor.

You have Showtime or HBO? This is will be on in 6 months. Otherwise its a pleasant way to spend a Friday afternoon. Thanks, Jim!