Folks, have you ever wanted to go out to the movies with your significant other but couldn’t agree on what movie to see? Well, allow me to introduce you to how my ex-wife and I used to solve this problem back when we were married. First, each of you pick two movies that you want to see. If both of you pick the same movie then obviously, you go see that movie. However, if you both pick two different movies, then you look up the reviews for those movies on Rotten Tomatoes and whoever’s picks have the highest combined rating, then that person wins but the loser picks which of the two movies you go watch. If you are wondering why I am bringing this up, that is because the first time we did this, I wound up winning so we went to go see today’s movie, The Rundown.
The plot: A “retrieval expert” named Beck is in his car listening to a cooking show on the radio until his associate yells for him to come into the club. As his associate points out the man Beck is there to collect from, a professional quarterback named Knappmiller, Beck notices that he has his team’s offensive line with him. Beck goes down and tries talking to Knappmiller, telling him he needs his championship ring as collateral but Knappmiller throws some drinks in Beck’s face and tells him to leave. After heading to the restroom to clean up, Beck calls his boss, Billy Walker, and asks to do it another night as he doesn’t want to hurt the other football players but Billy demands he get the ring so Beck heads back out to the club and proceeds to beat down the other players before grabbing Knappmiller and taking the ring from him. As Billy heads out to his car, he is shot by a man with a bean bag, who then grabs the ring from him. Beck heads to Billy’s house, upset that he sent another retriever to steal from him and demands his money. Beck tells Billy he wants out, as he plans to open a restaurant, and Billy says he will give him one last job and if he complete is, he will walk out a free man and with the money for his restaurant. Billy hands Beck a folder and tells him to bring his son Travis back from a mining town in Brazil and his slate will be wiped clean. Beck heads down to the Amazon and is driven to the mining town by Declan, who explains the dangers in the area. In the town, Declan takes Beck to see Hatcher, the man who runs the town, and Beck asks Hatcher if he has seen Travis and Hatcher says he allowed him to do some excavating around the mine, then gets curious as to why Beck is there. Meanwhile, Travis is at the town’s bar, trying to flatter the bartender Mariana into letting her borrow her uncle’s boat so he can find a priceless artifact called El Gato do Diablo. Leaving Hatcher’s office, Beck borrows Declan’s jeep, telling Declan to head back to the airfield and get the plane ready to fly out. Beck heads to the bar and confronts Travis, who tries to resist when Beck says he is taking him back to his father, but Beck easily overpowers him. As they are about to leave, Hatcher and his men enter the bar and Hatcher tells Beck that Travis is staying, as he wants Travis to lead him to El Gato. Beck manages to beat several of Hatcher’s men and then get into the jeep with Travis and drive off but Travis, refusing to go back to his father, kicks the steering wheel and causes them to crash off a cliff. After tumbling down the cliff and falling into a lake, Travis tries to get away but Beck captures him again and they start walking through the jungle. When Travis notices a rebel snare, he tricks Beck into triggering it and Beck finds himself dangling from a tree. Travis is able to grab the key that falls from Beck’s pocket and free himself from the handcuffs but as he taunts Beck, he accidentally triggers another snare and ends up hanging next to Beck. The two try to work together to free themselves but as they cling to a tree, a group of monkeys appear and attempt to hump them but are quickly chased off by the rebels. Beck and Travis are taken to the rebel camp and Travis speaks with the rebels and tricks them into thinking Beck is an assassin sent by Hatcher. The rebels release Beck so that they can fight him but Beck is able to mount a comeback and almost gets the upper hand. Suddenly, Mariana appears and stops the fight, revealing herself to be the rebel leader. That night, Mariana explains to Beck why she is leading the rebels to stop Hatcher’s exploitation of the workers and why she needs Travis to find El Gato. Suddenly, Hatcher’s men show up and attack the camp, killing most of the rebels and capturing the others but Beck, Travis, and Mariana manage to escape. As they travel down the river, Beck agrees to help Travis find El Gato so Mariana can sell it as long as she tells him how to get out of the jungle, though Travis isn’t happy about the deal. Travis leads them into the jungle towards a waterfall, which they swim under to find a hidden cave. Inside the cave, they find a series of booby traps but Travis is able to figure them out and grabs the statue before the roof collapses. As they make camp for the night, Mariana feeds Beck and Travis some Konlobos, which temporarily paralyzes them, and she thanks Travis for finding the statue, then tells Beck that he kept his word so she will keep hers and tells him how to get to the airfield. Beck and Travis recover from the paralysis in the morning, just in time to scare away some monkeys that had approached them, and make their way to the airfield. When they reach it, Beck is in a hurry to leave, as he doesn’t want to run into Hatcher or his men, but Declan says that Hatcher doesn’t care about them as he captured Mariana and took the statue from her earlier in the morning. Beck plans on going back to save Mariana but Travis says he will die if he goes in on his own and convinces Beck to let him help. Declan heads into town playing a set of bagpipes, which serves as a distraction as Beck and Travis make their way into town and start taking out Hatcher’s men. When Travis ends up pinned down by gunfire in a bus, Beck, who has avoided using guns before, finds himself forced to use guns to kill Hatcher’s men and save Travis. Hatcher tells his brother to take Mariana and the statue and head to the airfield but Travis crashes a car into them, saving Mariana and grabbing the statue. Beck finally beats the rest of Hatcher’s men, then shoots Hatcher’s gun out of his hand before he can shoot him but Travis uses the opportunity to disappear. As the town folk surround Hatcher, he yells that they would be nothing without him but he ends up being shot by them. Beck releases Mariana and they are surprised to see Travis has returned and hands the statue to Mariana to sell. Beck takes Travis back to L.A., and walks Travis into Billy’s house and asks if they are square. Billy says they are good and Beck tells him they should celebrate by having some Konlobos. After handing the fruit to Billy and his bodyguards, the three men fall victim to the paralysis and Beck frees Travis and they leave the house, with Travis jokingly messing with Beck the entire time.
The Rundown met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Rundown doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s a smart, funny buddy action picture with terrific comic chemistry between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Seann William Scott.” The film’s original title was called “Helldorado”, and then changed to “Welcome To The Jungle” before eventually changing to the final title, and references to the previous titles can be found throughout the film. The Arnold Schwazeneggar cameo had many people feeling like it was a metaphorical passing of the torch to the next generation of action stars. Despite the critical praise, the movie failed at the box office, earning $80.9 million off of a $85 million budget.
This is a great movie to watch. Dwayne Johnson (Beck) used his time in the WWE to create a great blend of action and comedy in the movie. Seann William Scott (Travis) tried to break out of the “Stifler” stereotype somewhat and the dynamic between him and Johnson was a good bit of adversarial camaraderie, while Rosario Dawson (Mariana) and Christopher Walken (Hatcher) both were fantastic as well. The story was a pretty interesting mix of treasure hunting and bounty hunting that worked very well together. The comedy aspects of the film were a little juvenile, or adult depending on how you look at it, but they did work as effective tension breakers to keep the movie from becoming too overly serious. The special effects were ok but the fight scenes were definitely well done, especially the fight between Dwayne Johnson and Ernie Reyes Jr. (of The Last Dragon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame). An entertaining movie that is worth watching any time you get the chance to watch it.
Rating: 4 out of 5