"A derivative,cookie-cutter action flick...that's actually pretty damn good."
It's so great to see a "quality" B-movie hit the multiplexes once in a while. With very little originality or brains, Peter Berg's "The Rundown" puts similar flicks to shame simply by bringing that infectiously goofy FUN back into what's generally known as the Mindless Action Flick.Love Bad Boys 2 or loathe it as much as I so passionately do, you can't claim that there's any real FUN to be had there. The copious action sequences tick off like a checklist 'o mayhem and plop onto the screen like the world's loudest conveyer belt.
And what's it say about the state of the modern Action Blockbuster that the ultra-expensive Bad Boys 2 is overshadowed in nearly every respect by The Rundown...a project that's been bouncing around Hollywood for over ten years!
Rescheduled a few times and repeatedly retitled (from Helldorado to Welcome to the Jungle to The Rundown), Peter Berg's second effort (after the sadly misunderstood Very Bad Things) delivers a collection of winning action scenes, surprisingly witty exchanges of Buddy Banter, exotic locales aplenty...and the ever-welcome presence of one Christopher Walken.
The plot sees our hulking hero (Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock) on a mission to retrieve a ne'er-do-well wiseass from the deepest Amazon jungles. Immediately upon the hero's arrival, things go more than consistently awry. We got barroom brawls, insane plummets down mountains, tribes laden with feral little asskickers, and more colorfully devious henchmen than any action flick needs.
That The Rundown delivers the goods in a colorful and thankfully irony-free fashion would be enough to earn it my admittedly surprised recommendation. What makes The Rundown even better than that is the shockingly disarming lead performance by the Rock-Man! Neither of the WWF star's previous films (The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King) afforded the affable lug with much material personable in nature, but in this one the guy's loose and charming, understated and entirely likeable. Based on his performance here, it seems there's very little to prevent Mr. Rock from becoming the heir apparent to the Slys and the Arnies.
Perhaps Vin Diesel could take some tips from The Rock's performance in The Rundown.
The Rundown is a simple equation, which makes the general dearth of quality action films each year all the more frustrating. Bring some energy, some color, some excitement and flash, a few good-humored performers well aware of the type of movie that they're acting in, and a villain worth booing...and you've probably just produced an action movie that approaches the enthusiasm and enjoyably silliness that The Rundown presents with an impressive consistency.People think that movie critics hate "mindless action films". Trust me, we don't. We just hate the stupid and lazy ones. And those ones are freakin' everywhere. If you judge a film on its own entertainment agenda, "The Rundown" is simply a winner.