"The Rundown," starring pro wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Seann William Scott, pinned the competition at the box office this past weekend.
The comedy/adventure film, distributed by Universal Pictures, brought in $18.5 million over the last three days. "Rundown" marks The Rock's second full-length feature film, as he starred in last year's "The Scorpion King."
This time around, The Rock is bounty hunter Beck, who is a "retrieval expert" as well. Right from the beginning, Beck enters a nightclub to settle a bad debt with an NFL quarterback. He passes Arnold Schwarzenegger (in a cameo appearance) on the way in. Arnold says to him, "Have a good time" (in a way, passing the "future action hero" torch). While scouring the nightclub, Beck notices the quarterback is partying with his entire defensive line, with stats provided in true pro football fashion.
Unlike your typical bounty hunter, Beck prefers to handle things via options. The first option is usually the quiet, subtle way, while the second option tends to create violence and havoc. Beck even calls his boss, Billy Walker (William Lucking) before thrashing the defensive line because "they may have a chance to repeat."
Upon completing that mission, Beck is sent by Walker on what he hopes is his final assignment. He is to bring back his son, Travis Walker (Scott), who is a fortune hunter in the Amazon. Travis' purpose in life is the search of the Gato, an ancient Indian artifact that is worth millions of dollars.
Following a rickety, single-engine plane flight into the bull-ridden streets of El Dorado (nicknamed "Hell Dorado"), Beck soon meets Hatcher (Christopher Walken), a tight-fisted tyrant who runs the gold-mining town as if it was a company (workers have to rent their shovels by the day).
While scouring the town looking for Travis, Beck comes upon a bar, where he meets Mariana (Rosario Dawson). She isn't a big fan of the way Hatcher runs the town, and she is also subject to Travis' constant borrowings. Here Beck and Travis soon make their acquaintance, along with Hatcher and his set of goons, including several whip masters. Again, Beck gives everyone a choice of options, and the wrong choice is made again. A brawl ensues and then Beck and Walker head towards the jungle.
Having crashed their jeep and rolling down a forever-long hillside, the two men find themselves booby-trapped and immorally attacked by monkeys. They are freed by a group of jungle guerillas (led by Ernie Reyes, Jr.) who manages to hold his own in a bout with Beck. While Beck pleads, "I don't want to fight you," Travis makes matters worse by hurling insults in their native tongue on behalf of Beck. This whole segment is a gut-buster to say the least.
Soon the duo, along with Mariana, set search for the Gato, in hopes of finding it to take over El Dorado from Hatcher's clutches. Of course, with every good villain such as Hatcher, he is set on finding the trio and keeping the artifact for himself.
The interaction between Beck and Travis is absolutely hilarious. While Beck mostly plays "second banana" to Travis' constant wit, he manages to get in a few digs of his own. It doesn't help that Beck accentuates every punchline with a punch, to which Travis constantly complains, "Will you quit hitting me?"
Walken is his true devious self as Hatcher - not too overbearing but wearing an awful-looking hat. Dawson is a nice beauty, however, for being in such a hot and sweaty environment, she appears to be way too clean. It's hard to determine if she still has a thing for Travis at the end, or if she was actually smellin' what The Rock was cooking. The tropical, jungle setting was a nice change of pace from usual comedy/adventure films scenarios.
With another hit on The Rock's resume, "The Rundown" layeth the smackdown with three and three quarters out of four stars.
"The Rundown" is rated PG-13 for adventure violence and some crude dialogue. Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes.
Last week's No. 1, "Underworld" dropped slightly to the third slot with $9.4 million, taking its 10-day total to $37 million.
"Once Upon A Time In Mexico" continues its descent from No. 4 to No. 6 with $5.1 million, giving it $49 million overall.
Dennis J. Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.