WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
The Rundown is a glossy, manic little thriller that's a bit too loud and smirky for its own good. It's a star vehicle for the Rock, otherwise known as Dwayne Johnson, and although the wrestler/entertainer is undoubtedly acting here for the first time, rather than posing, The Rundown is a pretty hollow action enterprise that you'll forget even as the end credits roll.
Make no mistake: This is a movie about its star. The Rock has undeniable screen presence, seeming to nearly burst from the celluloid's 2D confines with his overdeveloped physique and piercing glare. The cynical among you might dismiss The Rundown as an excuse for Mr. Johnson to film an action spectacle while vacationing in Hawaii, and you would be mostly correct. There's a little more to the film than the Rock showing off his prowess: For example, we get a humorously evil turn from Christopher Walken, an okay fight scene involving pygmies, and the gorgeous sight of Rosario Dawson. But yeah, we also get a baboon having its way with the Rock's head. And we also get Stiffler (Seann William Scott). And all of it feels in service of the Rock.
The Rock plays Beck, a debt collector with a distaste for guns. (See, he'd rather use his fists and his powerful acrobatic fighting grace. Better for the camera, you know.) On one final assignment before retiring and opening a restaurant, Beck finds himself in the Brazilian rainforest chasing after Travis (Scott), who is, for some reason, wanted back home by his ruthless father (Beck's boss). Turns out, Travis is searching for a precious Brazilian artifact. He wants it for fortune and glory, but there are others who want to find it, too. Town overlord Hatcher (Walken) desires it for evil reasons, and Mariana (Dawson) understands its true power.
But, ya see, all that doesn't mean anything.
The plot is an excuse to string action scenes and fight sequences and forced witty banter together, and sometimes it works all right, but mostly it's just meaningless action. If that's your bread and butter, The Rundown will probably be a nice addition to your collection. There's a certain moment, though, perhaps halfway through the film, when this reviewer's suspension of disbelief was long gone and was replaced by a glazed, open-mouthed expression as fists pounded faces and explosions rocked the town and our heroes emerged, smirking, unscathed.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Columbia/TriStar presents The Rundown in a heavily saturated anamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's original 2.35:1 theatrical presentation. Contrast and color are cranked, giving the film an almost ugly harshness, despite its fine level of detail. If not for this saturated harshness, this would be a gorgeous effort, full of depth and natural textures. But as it is, you're left almost squinting from the aggressiveness of the film's look. On the plus side, the print is absolutely pristine, and I noticed no digital artifacting, which is amazing considering the high-contrast transfer.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track that's quite impressive and immersive. Typical of a recent, high-gloss action film, the audio presentation boasts top-notch fidelity and dynamic range, with clear highs and solid, booming lows. Dialog is clear and accurate, music is full and rich, and action sound effects are energetic, the most powerful element of the soundtrack. Surround activity is subtle but enveloping.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
The Rundown comes with a generous array of supplements, the bulk of which are presented in a smart-ass, jokey tone that begins to grate on you after a while. Throughout these extras, you can sense the smirks of all involved. Most of this stuff is fluffy, particularly the featurettes, but there's some worthwhile information to be gleaned from the disc's two audio commentaries.
The first, a Feature Commentary by Director Peter Berg and The Rock, is the more entertaining of the two. The two participants have a laidback, easy discussion, and you'll find yourself laughing out loud a few times. Berg has an oddball sense of humor, and the Rock ain't too shabby himself. What I liked most about this track was the many moments when they would point out continuity errors and discuss strange subjects such as how to fight Tom Arnold and what the Rock's hair might look like if he let it grow out for 10 years.
The second audio track is a Feature Commentary by Producers Kevin Misher and Mark Abraham, and it's a somewhat less animated but equally interesting discussion about behind-the-scenes anecdotes, tales of the shooting locations, and glimpses of the cast and crew. If you're a fan of the film, don't dismiss this track as a yawnfest, because there's quite a bit of information imparted.
Rumble in the Jungle is a standard 10-minute EPK featurette that offers spastically edited interviews and glimpses of stunts and fights. We learn repeatedly that the Rock performed his own stunts, so there's a lot of horn-tooting here. Pretty fluffy stuff.
Running Down the Town is a 4-minute segment about the building of a rainforest town on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Pretty one-note.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
The Rundown is a mostly empty exercise in action tedium, with very few original flourishes. The DVD practically wears a smirk. The film and the extras carry through with this attitude. Image quality is good but flawed, and sound quality is quite good.