It received good reviews, did well at the box office, but is The Rundown worth the ride? The Rock stars in his second big film after the surprisingly entertaining The Scorpion King.
Some have dubbed The Rock (Dwayne Johnson for those of us who prefer more civilized names) the next Arnold Schwarzenegger; after all, he has the looks, the muscle and the likeability. He isn't the greatest of actors but does have on-screen charm; he does have potential. But the next Schwarzenegger? I don't think so. The Rock is capable of making fun and entertaining movies, but Schwarzenegger has a history of doing more than that, of making serious action films that don't have the same goofy humor that seemingly is needed to make The Rock's movies worthwhile.
And that leads to the case with The Rundown, a movie that works much better as a comedy than an action film. While the movie does boast some painfully entertaining action sequences, a good chunk of the worthwhile material comes from jokes, not fighting. What does that say about The Rock? I don't know, but Seann William Scott is a bit annoying, isn't he?
The Rock is good enough; he plays a likable character that will never go down without a fight. As long as he isn't talking too long in one stretch, he is fun to watch. Scott is inconsistently funny - half the time his character is way over the top. He pulls off some good jokes, but is this guy capable of doing anyone other than Stifler? I don't think so. He plays the same annoying and silly character in every movie, regardless of whether he is taking on strippers or bad guys. Granted, he is much better here than he was in Bulletproof Monk - of course, that doesn't say much.
The rest of the cast includes Christopher Walken, who delivers another enjoyable performance as a sleazy villain. Though he is always fun to watch, it seems as though he mocks himself in many of his recent movies. It would be great to see him in more serious fare.
As for Rosario Dawson, she is pretty much wasted here. She is a beautiful woman and capable of a lot (see 25th Hour), but she has little to offer here. She seems to be in the movie for the sake of having a female in the cast, yet the movie fails to exploit her acting talent or looks. A movie should at least do one or the other, and not just have a woman standing around in the background for the hell of it.
As for the movie itself, The Rundown varies tremendously. It is consistently entertaining, but, as mentioned earlier, works far better as a comedy than anything else. There are several laugh-out-loud scenes, and many others that draw mild chuckles. As an action film, it works only at times. There are a couple really good scenes - the final battle is pretty entertaining - but there are none that are really exciting or suspenseful. The best action sequences are such because of the pain they show; The Rock and every other character run, slam and fall into everything possible, including rock, dirt, wood and water.
There are many little things in the movie that just do not make much sense, or are just not believable. The overall integrity of the film - or any film, for that matter - suffers greatly when elements just do not mend, and The Rundown has plenty of questionable parts.
The Rundown is entertaining and has plenty of painful punches to satisfy any action fan, but those looking for something even remotely believable and intelligent may not enjoy it as much. It would be nice to see The Rock cook up something that is perhaps not only funny, but exciting and smart as well.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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