Scott Brown
September 25, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Rundown

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
104 minutes
Wide Release Date
09/26/03
performer
Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Jon Gries, Christopher Walken
director
Peter Berg
distributor
Universal
author
James Vanderbilt
genre
ActionAdventure

We gave it a B

I don’t see the point in Seann William Scott. He feels like the body double for some charismatic rogue who never showed up for work. Some claim his appeal lies in his very averageness, his ability to evoke the high school jock and/or jerk we all knew and, in some cases, loved. Nah. Scott’s shtick (which reached a peak of mediocrity in the last ”American Pie” installment) is hard-won and desperate, like a punch in the shoulder that’s too hard to be friendly, yet too feeble to impress.

So I’m surprised and delighted to report that The Rundown is actually a lot of fun, mostly because The Rock, simply by standing there and being The Rock, cancels out Scott entirely. Propelled by the pro wrestler’s refined bone-crusher theatrics and director Peter Berg’s undiluted delirium (you can practically hear the ”Very Bad Things” helmer cackling behind the camera), this action comedy is the wildly asinine crack-up derby that ”XXX” should have been. And Scott’s contribution, however slight, actually fits. As Travis, he’s the MacGuffin that ”retrieval specialist” Beck (The Rock, a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson) must recover from the Brazilian rain forest for the prodigal’s shady crime lord father (William Lucking). Whether you see Travis as a character or a plot device is determined entirely by your affection for Scott — Berg doesn’t make you choose.

No, he’s got bigger, louder, cheekier fish to fry, bravura five-on-one fights to choreograph, hilariously long falls to stage, and one very crazy Christopher Walken to wrangle. The actor plays Hatcher, a great white globalist who’s enslaved the local ”Oompa- Loompas” (and you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Walken say ”Oompa-Loompas”) to work in his gold mine — and naturally, he has his own mysterious interest in Travis. Floating between Brando’s Kurtz and Brando’s Moreau, he slings not only Wonka-derived slurs but also warped Conrad allusions (”I am the haht in the dahkness!”) and a demented riff on the tooth fairy.

There’s a girl, too (Rosario Dawson), and an equally irrelevant ancient artifact, but it’s all just an excuse for The Rock to dish out disciplined beat-downs, looking ever-sleek but never preening. No Arnold throwback, he’s a new beast, the action beefcake as metrosexual — and he’s anything but average.

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