THE ROCK AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, which is being marketed and released as THE
RUNDOWN, is a hilarious action picture, directed with his signature irreverence
by VERY BAD THINGS's Peter Berg.
In the first movie in which The Rock proves that he can act, he plays Beck, a
"retrieval expert," i.e., a strong-arm collection agent. In order to raise the
quarter of a million dollars that he needs to quit the business and start a
restaurant, he agrees to go deep into the Amazon jungle to fetch a lad named
Travis (Seann William Scott) and bring him home to his father. (Before Beck
leaves L.A., watch for the Governator's cameo appearance.) Once in Brazil,
Beck finds that Travis is busying trying to make his fortune by locating a
The Rock proves quite convincing as a vulnerable and yet ultimately invincible
action hero. When he gets hurt, which is often, he manages to make you really
feel his pain. The high-energy picture has some of the best martial arts and
stunt work this side of a Jackie Chan movie. And, like Chan's kung fu, the
fighting here is intense and intensely funny. Even Scott is impressive as an
overconfident fighter who likes to take on the big guy who is supposed to bring
him back. Needless to say, Scott gets creamed.
The Rock and Scott are an improbable but very effective and humorous team,
bickering and fighting as they go. Some of their simple moments together are
their best. When a tied-up Travis needs to urinate, he calls on Beck to help
him out with the zipper. Both of the men turn this into a cute bit of physical
The Rock manages to make the most of his lines. The movie's on-going joke is
that Beck keeps offering "option A or option B" to people. Option A is
basically doing what he wants and not getting hurt, whereas option B is "pretty
much the opposite."
Always wonderful Christopher Walken plays Hatcher, the evil owner of a huge
mine employing thousand of locals at slave wages for slave work. Walken's
deadpan humor serves as the script's delicious punctuation. "There's been a
slight change in the narration -- an unexpected twist," Hatcher says slowly and
with a twinkle in his eye to Beck, when Hatcher and his well-armed bad boys
plan on relieving Beck of his prisoner, Travis.
Take option A. Resist any reservation you might have about The Rock after THE
SCORPION KING. He and Scott are super, and Berg sets up some great action
sequences. It's a fun film.
THE RUNDOWN runs 1:44. The film is rated PG-13 for "adventure violence and
some crude dialogue" and would be acceptable for kids around 10 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 14, gave it *** 1/2, saying The Rock and Scott had great
chemistry together. He liked all the male leads a lot, but said that Rosario
Dawson, as a leader of the rebels, didn't add much. He thought the action was
outrageously fun, and he liked some of the wrestling-based moves.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes