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"The Rundown"

Directed by Peter Berg ("Very Bad Things").
Written by R.J. Stewart and James Vanderbilt. 
Starring The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson and Christopher Walken.
Release Year:  2003
Review Date:  10/21/03 


It's official--"The Rundown" does NOT suck.

In fact, the second starring effort by The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) is a big jump from the very shitty "The Scorpion King."  This is mostly because director Peter Berg makes sure to give us a great mix of action and comedy, as well as showcasing Johnson's trademark charisma much more effectively than was done in his barbarian effort from last year.  In "The Rundown", Johnson plays Beck, a vaguely familiar enforcer type that is tasked with picking up his boss' son Travis (Seann William Scott) from a town in Brazil called El Dorado.  The son seems to have a lead on some mystical artifact called the Gotto, which is of interest to a local bartender (Rosario Dawson) and an evil mine dictator named Hatcher (Christopher Walken) and about a hundred of Hatcher's henchmen.

The plot, of course, is secondary here and even the Gotto itself seems to be a bit of a ripoff.  Hell, I kept getting distracted because the Gotto looks like it has a big red push button on the back of it, kind of like a panic button or a tag that wasn't taken off at the toy store where the damned thing was purchased.  But, if you can get over that, most everything else about the production looks quite good--the stars are perfect for a film like this; the action scenes are well shot, the jungle looks great, the quick cuts to the weapons each time Beck sizes up his enemies are very cool.  Scott continues to be perfect as the sidekick; his hilarious money shot comes as he tries to take a wiz in the jungle while handcuffed and my audience was lapping up every second of Scott's posturing.  Dawson is just reallllllll easy on the eyes, and Walken seems to not tire of taking on these thankless baddie roles because he is fantastic once again with reasonably clichéd dialogue.

But, it's The Rock's movie and he delivers on almost all fronts.  At this point, I have to believe that he has more of an upside than Vin Diesel at this stage of his career; with another film already in the can and a movie version of the video game "Spy Hunter" coming in the next couple of years, he's got the chance to really do something if directors can figure out the best way to combine his charm and his ridiculously huge arms into one great film.  You can just tell by looking at him that he would be cool to hang out with, and even though he hasn't quite mastered the delivery of dialogue in his films, you kind of root for him to get better.  He also, so far at least, has been working with material that is not much of a stretch for him; in "The Rundown", he seems very comfortable with everything that is happening around him.

Good stuff.  On a separate note, the trailer for "The Matrix Revolutions" was attached to my print of "The Rundown", and I am officially worried about this film.  The trailers for the first two films left me gasping (even if "Reloaded" was not a perfect film in the long run), but the trailer for the upcoming third film left me wondering if the directors really DID bite off more than they could chew.  I didn't get excited about the action, I didn't get excited about Neo and Agent Smith running down a rainy street at each other, I didn't get excited about large robots firing at other large robots and I didn't get excited by the fact that there were no shots of Monica Bellucci in this trailer.  Don't get me wrong--I'll still be seeing this opening day.  But, still, a little worried.

Rating for "The Rundown":  $9.50 Show
Rating for "The Matrix Revolutions" trailer:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09