The Rundown (2003)

The Rundown (2003)

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"You were pretty good in American Pie. I could smell what you were cookin'."
“You were pretty good in American Pie. I could smell what you were cookin’.”

Twitter Plot Summary: A hard-hitting retrieval expert with plans to become a chef is made to go on one last job before retiring.

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0327850/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Five Point Summary:

1. Arnie cameo. Nice and early.
2. Rock Bottom!
3. Bad guy with a whip. I see a showdown coming up later on…
4. Monkeys: The Revenge
5. Christopher Walken: the ultimate parody of himself.

Also known as The Rundown in the USA, Welcome To The Jungle is a surprisingly efficient modern action film. The script, despite being a typical cliche action movie setup, zings with snappy dialogue and a number of entertaining set pieces. Beck is a retrieval expert, tasked with completing one last job for his slightly sinister boss, Walker. The job should be simple – head to the Amazon basin and collect Walker’s son, Travis. Of course, this being an action film and Beck being played by none other than The Rock himself, things won’t go to plan and it will all go to pot.

Beck is an interesting character for the fact he’s not a fan of using guns. That’s his defining characteristic and one that he sticks to until he’s pushed too far and things really kick off. Until then he kicks seven shades of snot out of anybody who’s deserving of it, including Travis where appropriate. From start to finish Beck makes it perfectly clear that all he wants to do is retire and start a career as a chef, and his exasperation with the circumstances he finds himself in is captured perfectly.

The real delight is the interplay between Seann William Scott and Dwayne Johnson. It’s certainly no Riggs/Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon, and it’s not even John McClane/Zeus from Die Hard With A Vengeance, but it’s fun stuff all the same. Dwayne Johnson is a charisma machine in any case, so thankfully he and Stifler can bounce off each other nicely. Christopher Walken plays an exaggerated version of himself, although nowadays it’s hard to tell the difference. As the villain he’s largely underused, but has a couple of decent scenes to justify his presence. Topping up the central cast is Rosario Dawson to add a minor love triangle element to the story. There’s more to her character than meets the eye, which makes a pleasant change to the usual “damsel in distress” routine.

Christopher Walken and three generic bad guys. On a Wednesday.
Christopher Walken and three generic bad guys. On a Wednesday.

The location shoot itself is fantastic to look at. Combined with a fun script and decent action, it all slots together with little to complain about. On that note, and rather understandably, as an action film there is little depth to the story or the characters than the action demands. There’s a lot of secondary characters – Ewan Bremner’s pilot the most notable – but there isn’t much for them to do. This I can understand as otherwise we’d not actually see anything being done – it would be two hours of in-depth character study set in a jungle. Suffice to say that the secondary characters are given a notable characteristic and it’s left at that.

It appeared at first that this would start a new action franchise with Beck as the lead – clearly 10 years later (at time of writing) this hasn’t come to pass, and it feels like an opportunity has been wasted. Still, at least we got to enjoy this one adventure with Beck and some rather excitable monkeys. Yeah, keep an eye out for them.

Score: 3.5/5

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