Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Rundown (2003)

Ah The Rock, you greasy piece of monstrous man-meat. I don't know why I hold a special place in my heart (and my dresser) for you. It could be your smooth, hairless skin or your perfectly trimmed eyebrows which can seemingly move mountains, or any other host of unnaturally large and smooth features. But here you are, gracing another movie that somehow deemed you a large enough star to cast as the protagonist. But then again, with the disgustingly devious WWF advertisements in the credits, it seems a little obvious the kind of audience they were (literally) banking on. Some are wont to assert that The Rock is the next generation Arnold (just because he makes an unintentional cameo in the film.....) and Vin Diesel is the next Jean Claude, a bold claim for sure. I personally would assert that The Rock is the poor man's Vin, to which Spencer promptly replies "Vin is already the poor man's Vin Diesel," a statement that I'm still attempting to decode. Whatever the case, I was genuinely amused by the B-list nature of this action-comedy. A scruffy pair, Glover and Gibson-esque for sure, The Rock and that other dude make an almost genuinely hysterical team. The comedy is a little frat boy inspired (why are there monkeys humping his face??!! [Spencer professionally describes this as "scatalogical humor."]) to be sure, but the Capoeira-styled, swinging-from-the-trees, totally awesome, hand-to-hand combat scene makes up for any previous grievances. Indeed, the action scenes are handled quite nicely; I remain interested and entertained; The sequences are non-repetitive and classic yet set in an exotic locale to create some jungular juxtaposition. The Rock's cousin, his stunt double, even won some award for doing this awesome stunt where he throws himself down a mountainside and he ended up breaking his ankle, but with the award, it was all cool. And the ever sprightly Christopher Walken, with his high-waisted khakis and ridiculous panama hat, makes a sinister old-white-dude-using-natives-for-slaves villian, a bad guy that (almost) everyone can get on board to hate. The Rock, in turn, plays the most unlikely character of a dude who wants to be a cook and is instead forced to bring people in for his loan shark whose thumb he's under (yeah, he's always writing down cooking information [p-o-r-c-i-n-i] like some sort of bodyguard savant); William Scott, a college drop-out, seen-too-many-Indiana-movies (the poster certainly does its best to evoke such images; hey if Shia Ladouche can do it [ie associate himself with the franchise], who can't?), wanna-be archaeologist who actually finds something but is unfortunate enough to be the son of said loan shark. And finally, Rosario Dawson, who would probably be in anything (Gods, Clerks II was unfortunate), and here plays some sort of hot rebel fighting for justice in Portuguese with an automatic weapon. Nice. It's mostly a sausage fest though (not surprising considering the audience previously discussed), an unfortunate fact. Disregard that and all in all, I was pleasantly entertained. Not everyone else was, as the movie barely made back half of its $85 million budget in theaters (Why would anyone cast The Rock as the main character in an $85 million dollar movie? [The Scorpion King was only $60, but I guess since it made it back, they thought they could try a bigger investment = mistake!]). The biggest mistake, far and away, was The Rock trying to make the name transition to Dwayne Johnson like he's a serious actor and now he does kiddie movies. Stick to explosions and grappling men!

Final Judgment: "A movie worth watching precisely because someone forgot to take their steroids this morning/A safe standard that revives the B-list days of Indy and Lethal Weapon.

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