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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Rundown

A better-than-average action film

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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September 30, 2003 -- “The Rundown” is a cut above the usual Hollywood action movie fare. It is slick, has a solid screenplay, a great action hero in The Rock, and a good supporting cast of actors. It also has a great bad guy played by the very talented Christopher Walken of “Catch Me if You Can.” Few actors can match Walken when it comes to playing a villain. With all this talent, it is not surprising that the movie is very entertaining, even if the action is implausible.

The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) plays Beck, a big, tough guy who specializes in retrieving money for loan sharks and other unsavory characters. Beck, however, doesn't like his job and he wants out. He wants to open his own restaurant, but first has to repay a debt owed his ruthless boss, Walker (William Lucking), before he is free. Beck may look like a thug, but he is smart and resourceful. He also has follows a strict code of honor. He has to do one last job, find Walker's son, Travis (Seann William Scott of “American Wedding”) in the Amazon jungle and bring him back to the states. Upon arrival near the vast gold mine where Travis is hiding, Beck tells his bush pilot to keep the plane's engine running while he goes to collect Travis. Somehow, we know it isn't going to be that easy.

Beck has to contend with the corrupt mine owner, Hatcher (Walken) as well as a band of rebels who want to overthrow Hatcher. He also has to contend with Travis, who is more than a handful. Travis does not want to leave. He is convinced he knows the location of a legendary gold artifact, called the Gato de Diablo, worth millions and he wants to go get it. Travis also has to contend with one of the locals, Mariana (Rosario Dawson of “The 25th Hour”) who also wants the gold artifact. Beck just wants to bring Travis home and be done with the whole mess, but things are getting very complicated.

The Rock is a lot more impressive in this movie than he was in “The Scorpion King.” His acting is very solid. He shows he can handle comedy as well as drama. His fighting skills, of course, are excellent, since he used to be a pro wrestling star. Seann William Scott is perfect as the wise-cracking, cocky treasure hunter. Scott wears this Han Solo-type character with ease. He is funny, charming and but has a core of toughness and decency. Dawson, a fine young actress, easily handles her role as the mysterious Mariana. She is convincingly tough, smart and idealistic. A good comic performance is turned in by Ewen Bremner who plays the oddball bush pilot, Declan. Bremner's Scottish accent, so thick it is almost indecipherable, is a big part of his character's quirky charm.

While the performances are strong, the action is almost too much over the top. The two main characters, Travis and Beck, should have been dead after the film's first half hour. They should have been killed many times over before the end of the film. Near the beginning of the film, they fall off a cliff, crash through a bunch of trees, fall into a river, then a vehicle lands on top of them. Only cartoon characters survive that kind of punishment without injuries. These two survive so many beatings and falls, they qualify as cartoon characters in this film. They emerge with only a few scratches. Nevertheless, the film doesn't take itself seriously, so I really didn't mind the more ridiculous aspects of the action. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2003 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)