ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  peter berg

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  action

LENGTH  -  104 minutes

RELEASED  -  26 september 2003

DISTRIBUTOR  -  universal pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the rundown

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $85,000,000
the rundown - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the rundown at

buy the dvd from the rundown at

about a bounty hunter who attempts to square a debt by heading to the amazon jungle to capture someone.

about a bounty hunter who attempts to square a debt by heading to the amazon jungle to capture someone.


picture from the rundown

picture from the rundown

picture from the rundown


three out of four possible stars

This is exactly the type of film that more distinguishing film critics would love to tear apart. A movie that cares nothing for teaching the audience something about mankind or some other "high-minded" subject. An action adventure film that includes at least one bodily fluid joke, a preponderance of over-zealous Foley artists, and a few fiery explosions that seem to explode at least three or four times in just a few seconds. It's the type of film that would settle well with a cold beer and a greasy pizza and a comfortable couch. But that's not to say that seeing The Rundown is a bad idea. In fact, if action movies are your bag, this film will surely allow you to kick back and enjoy the sweaty, visceral action a couple of entertaining actors swinging around the Brazilian jungle like buffoons.

I mean, apes. Or monkeys. Whatever jungle-dwelling primate you can think up that Sean William Scott and The Rock can be compared to will suffice. In the fine tradition of "buddy flicks," The Rundown pairs two men on the opposite sides of the spectrum in physical appearance and temperament and puts them together in a situation that both would like to leave behind. This film is reminiscent of movies like Lethal Weapon (probably the finest example of this sub-genre of action film), Hollywood Homicide (probably one of the worst examples), and Rat Race. There are guns, a woman, some explosions, and a few completely unbelievable chase scenes. A perfect combination of the elements that fans of The Rock would likely want to see on screen.

Perhaps one of the most entertaining parts of this film is that the "damsel in distress" isn't in so much distress and she's not the one who gets to show off a scantily clad body. Though to her credit, Rosario Dawson could easily pull off a scantily clad scene. Instead, both Scott and The Rock get to flex their muscles in a few shirtless scenes which seem to have been inserted mainly for the viewing pleasure of female viewers than for any importance to the plot. As this movie is squarely in the "men with guns" type of action movie filmmaking, the targeted demographic of the film won't be in line with that of a "chick flick" or an 18th century drama. But it shouldn't alienate non-male viewers. If an audience member is a fan of fast-paced action films, the gender of that viewer isn't really important.

As the only female character in the film, Dawson has to represent her entire gender, and she does the job well. Her character doesn't have the depth of a Shakespearean heroine (she has absolutely no back story and the audience will have no idea why she's where she is or how she came to be there), but she infuses her role with the requisite amount of female authority. Her attitude is an equal balance of someone who feels she doesn't need help from a single soul to survive, but who has her vunerable moments. And though her clothing is wet for about half the film and is on the tight side, there's no equal-opportunity nude-ness in this film. That's solely in the men's court.

One of this film's saving graces is each lead actor's willingness to make fun of himself and his situation. For example, "Beck," The Rock's character, is a wannabe chef who enjoys collecting recipes. This is hardly the hobby of a muscle-bound hit man. And Sean William Scott's character, "Travis," believes himself to be a great archaeological discoverer. As it's too often a fault of action films that the humor is forgotten in the final cut, the obviously ludicrous nature of some of The Rundown's situations is lessened by the constant jokes courtesy of both leading men. And co-star Christopher Walken, who plays twitchy bad guy, "Hatcher," a jungle warlord who runs a gold mine with the slave labor of the local Brazilians, inserts his usual impressive quota of laughs into every one of his scenes. Whatever the situation, Walken's character always exits the scene by leaving the audience in stitches.

Looking at the film's technical read-out, the soundtrack is a standard mixture of heavy-metal infused guitar riffs and South American drum beats that gives the audience a good feel for the jungle location and represents a good portion of the audio noise that makes this film an action flick. While about half of the sound comes from the crunching, biting, hitting, and slapping of enhanced fight scenes, those scenes don't seem so nearly unbelievable with a good soundtrack in place. It's difficult to believe that the characters can rise from punches and impacts the likes of which would surely knock the average person out, but as the audience is made to believe Scott and The Rock's characters have but a few scrapes and bruises after falling down a nearly vertical, if one can believe the stunts, perhaps the rather "enthusiastic" punching sounds are just part of the game.

Though it would be hard to recommend this film to anyone in the "academic set" of filmgoers, it needs to be said that not all films should carry the requirement of being educational. This film is fast paced, not too long (its ninety-minute running time is greatly to its benefit), and infuses each of its scenes with a bit of comedy. The stunts are creative and the fight choreography is not nearly as run-of-the mill as one might think. A good amount of in-camera fighting and wire work ensures that the audience is treated to exciting fight scenes that are skillfully edited and filmed. Sean William Scott and The Rock make for an entertaining duo and thanks to the filmmakers' willingness to cut the picture to a respectable time, the audience won't become bored with the rather predictable screenplay. This film's value is in its action sequences and the funny banter between its stars. Don't go looking for anything else and you'll enjoy the theatrical experience.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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