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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Rundown
The Rundown
Universal // PG-13 // March 23, 2003
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 19, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:


Early in "The Rundown", Arnold Schwarzenegger has a minor cameo in a club scene as star The Rock is walking through the place. It's a funny little moment and an appropriate one, as the Rock certainly does seem like an excellent new choice to fill the old school action hero role. The Rock is good at comedy and seemingly getting better, and for a guy that's built like a tank, The Rock is still surprisingly swift on his feet in action scenes.

"The Rundown" is his first major starring role after the trial run of "The Scorpion King", and it's a fine one. The former wrestler plays Beck, a "retrieval expert" who starts the picture trying to get back a bad debt from a QB who he happens to be a fan of. He tries to settle things the easy way, then does things his way, beating up the QB and all the players at the table.

His boss then pulls together one more mission - to head to the Amazon and pick up his son, Travis Walker (Seann William Scott), a fortune hunter who's somewhere in the jungle. Meanwhile, Hatcher (Christopher Walken) - who owns the town - isn't about to let Travis go until he finds a valuable artifact buried deep in the wilds. Meanwhile, Mariana (Rosario Dawson), the local bartender, might be more involved than she lets on.

Although it's no classic, I liked a great deal of "The Rundown". The action sequences are cleverly staged and presented with some visual tricks, but yet, they're not too heavily edited or turned visually chaotic by excessive camera moves or CGI. The movie pretty much trots out some new conflict every few minutes, whether it be overly-friendly monkeys, rebels, fruit with a rather trippy aftertaste or sudden, steep cliffs.

There's a fair amount of comedy involved in the proceedings and surprisingly, Scott's smartass shtick seems reenergized by playing against the Rock. The former wrestler also has the ability to not take things so seriously (like the rest of the film) and has some hilarious moments of his own. Walken, as per usual, turns bizarre riffs (incuding one "Tooth Fairy" tale) into great humor.

Despite an average screenplay, "The Rundown" is presented with enough energy, visual flair, humor, good casting choices and action to overcome some of the more mediocre lines of dialogue that are scattered throughout the script. Problems aside, this is the most fun I've had watching an action film in a long while.


The DVD

VIDEO: "The Rundown" is presented by Universal in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. While not entirely without fault, this is often an extraordinarily good transfer. The jungle's rich color palette looked spectacular here, with the rich, early tones and deep greens appearing well-saturated and vibrant, with no smearing.

Sharpness and detail appeared wonderful throughout the show, as definition remained consistently first-rate. Fine details were often apparent, even into the backgrounds. A little bit of inconsistent grain showed up and there were a few moments of edge enhancement, but aside from those two very minor distractions, the presentation appeared completely crisp and clean. A terrific effort.

SOUND: "The Rundown" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is a good, if somewhat inconsistent effort. The main problem with the mix is that there's surprisingly little ambient sound in the surrounds, considering 95% of the movie takes place in the jungle. Surrounds are employed very well occasionally for some discrete sound effects during the action sequences (a bit where a cave is slowly collapsing in around the characters puts the surrounds to terrific use to envelop the listener in the moment, as does the final gunfight, which is an incredibly aggressive several minutes of sound design) and some minor reinforcement of Harry Gregson-Williams's score. Audio quality was very good, as sound effects remained crisp and dynamic, while dialogue and score remained clean and clear. Several highlights sound-wise, but could have been even better.

EXTRAS: In the first of two commentaries, director Peter Berg joins actor The Rock. The opening joke that the film was actually filmed on a small island off the coast of New Jersey goes on a little too long, but it's kinda funny and sets the tone for the rest of the movie. There's a lot of joking going on throughout the show - most of it funny, some not - but the duo also manage to throw in a lot of tidbits about the production, creating the look of the film and working with the other actors. More informative is the track from producers Marc Abraham and Kevin Misher. The two go into greater detail about some of the difficulties encountered during the remote shoot in Hawaii (being held up in the jungle), working with the PG-13 rating and the experience of meeting and working with Christopher Walken for the first time.

After the commentaries, there are a series of featurettes. "Rumble in the Jungle" is a 10-minute piece that goes into the stunts and action work in the film. We hear from Scott, Rock, the stunt coordinator and others. Although it starts off clearly in "hype mode" ("You've never seen the Rock do this before!"), the piece then does show a good deal of behind-the-scenes footage, showing the preparation work, wire work and other elements that went into the scenes.

"The Amazon, Hawaii Style" is a 5-minute piece that talks about searching for a location and how Hawaii was able to fill in. "Appetite For Destruction" is an 8-minute look at the filming of the major action sequence that happens near the end of the film. While brief, this is a well-done look at the preparations - in terms of safety and otherwise - that go into a sequence like this. "Walken World" is a not-terribly-interesting piece about the very interesting Christopher Walken's casting in the film.

"Running Down the Town" is a 4-minute piece focusing on the creation - from the ground up - of the town featured in the film. "The Rundown: Uncensored" is a silly E! channel-style parody piece, with the monkey featured in the film and her trainer hosting a tabloid piece about what happened on-set during the monkey scene.

Rounding out the supplemental section are 13-minutes of deleted scenes (including more Ewan Bremner as the pilot), cast/crew bios and DVD-ROM features. Move the remote up past the "scenes" icon on the main menu, and you'll find a hidden featurette that looks at the visual effects in the film.

Final Thoughts: Fun and entertaining, with solid helpings of action and comedy, "The Rundown" knows what it is and accomplishes what it set out to do. Universal presents the film on DVD with excellent video quality and very good audio, along with a fine helping of supplements. Recommended.

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