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The Rundown

If you want something back, you need a man like Beck. After all, the mob enforcer (played by The Rock) is one of the best in the business — ruthless enough to put the smack on an entire NCAA offensive line during a barroom free-for-all, and yet canny enough to offer his prey options. Of course there are just two: Option A means you get to go quietly, with all of your bones intact. Option B? Beck makes the choice for you. But when Beck's L.A. boss tells him he'll pay $250,000 to retrieve his absent son from South America, it turns into a job like no other — Stanford dropout Travis (Seann William Scott) has fled deep into the Amazon, and for reasons that aren't entirely clear. The only way to reach him is to travel to the mining community of El Dorado by small plane, piloted by an eccentric Scotsman (Ewen Bremner). From there, Beck quickly learns that the town is entirely controlled by American industrialist Cornelius Hatcher (Christopher Walken). But Hatcher doesn't particularly like the idea of outsiders. What's more, Travis thinks he has a firm lead on "El Gato do Diablo," a priceless artifact he plans to recover with the help of local barmaid Mariana (Rosario Dawson). A surprise hit in 2003, The Rundown probably was the best summer film of the year that wasn't actually released in the summer. It also marks the second starring role for erstwhile World Wrestling Entertainment headliner The Rock, who probably should consider going back to his given name of Dwayne Johnson before much longer — it may not sound as buff, but it's bound to have a longer shelf-life. Johnson may not be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger (who makes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo here), although with good script choices he could put himself on par with Vin Diesel in the next generation of action stars — he's large, agile, and willing to take some punishment, but he also has a natural quality on camera, and his Samoan ancestry lends his model-good looks a je ne sais quoi ethnicity. As such, he's paired well here with wiseass Seann William Scott (American Pie), whose abrasive personality collides with Johnson's taciturn, no-nonsense demeanor. Any decent action film should have a few set-pieces — here, Johnson and Scott's bungle through the jungle includes getting hog-tied in boar-traps, attacked by the local rebels, and caught in a cavern full of pitfalls (shamelessly torn from Indiana Jones) before the final showdown on the mining town's main road. All that is worth breaking open a six-pack, but the greatest joy to be found in The Rundown is Christopher Walken as the dastardly Hatcher, whose skill at vocal inflection exceeds the script to such a degree that it seems every single line, every word, is delivered in the sort of offbeat walkensprecht that is often imitated but never duplicated. Explaining (at length) that Beck's presence makes him feel like a boy who's been ripped off by the Tooth Fairy, he suddenly looks at his Brazilian laborers and demands "Do you people even understand… the concept of the Tooth Fairy?" No other actor in the world could deliver the line better. Universal's DVD release of The Rundown features a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Supplements include a commentary with director Peter Berg and The Rock, a second track with producers Kevin Misher and Marc Abraham, six behind-the-scenes featurettes, a deleted scenes reel (13 min.), and cast-and-crew bios and filmographies. Keep-case.

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