In the always rough, have-to-be tough urban jungle of Los Angeles, there are men like Beck...well, not exactly like Beck--a man who uses whatever means are necessary to retrieve whatever he is paid to bring back. A marker, a late payment or a Super Bowl ring from a quarterback with gambling debts--Beck doesn't differentiate and simply relies on his wits, his "let's get this over with" attitude and his devastating physical prowess to get the job done. For him, it's a simple, multiple-choice world: (A) Beck's way, (B) Beck's way with force, or (C)... there is no "C." Beck doesn't go looking for trouble, and he doesn't like making trouble for anyone, either. Unfortunately, trouble is what he's hired to clean up, and there's one final mess he's got to get out of before he can leave it all behind. At the center of his current trouble is a wise-ass named Travis, a fast-talking double dealer whose dad has commissioned Beck to retrieve from a lingering adventure in Brazil. Travis proves to be more of a handful than Beck expected, not only because of his mouth and his heels-dug-in reluctance to leave, but because of a couple of other complications he brings with him: Mariana, a no-nonsense local who holds the answers to some of the jungle's hidden mysteries, and Hatcher, an unhinged despot who has turned the jungle and its inhabitants into his own fortune-making, gold-mining empire. The rundown: Beck is after a guy... who's after a fortune... and now everybody's after them. So he's going to have to unleash everything he's got to keep on top of his smack-talking quarry, the girl with the secret, the crazy tyrant, the horny monkeys, the hallucinogenic fruit, the backs-to-the-wall rebels, the perilous terrain, the hidden traps and every other obstacle that this jungle throws at him.
A strictly formulaic action picture that suggests some of Arnold Schwarzenegger's early, low-budget vehicles, such as "Commando" (1985) and "Raw Deal" (1986). The Rock plays Beck (no first name), a reluctant enforcer for a Los Angeles loan shark who is sent to the jungles of Brazil (though the film was shot in Hawaii) to retrieve his boss's son, Travis (Seann William Scott, of the "American Pie" series). But Travis isn't eager to return, having discovered the location of a valuable golden idol, cunningly concealed for centuries in a hidden, booby-trapped cave. Hatcher (Christopher Walken), the cynical American who owns and operates a hellish open pit gold mine in the area, is also after Travis's secret, as is Mariana (Rosario Dawson), a local beauty who owns a bar but harbors a big secret of her own. As Mr. Scott chatters, the Rock pummels — a dynamic that has surfaced in practically every buddy action picture since Walter Hill paired Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in "48 Hrs." (1982). — Dave Kehr
2003-09-26 | Dave Kehr | Read the New York Times Review of The Rundown