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In the always rough, have-to-be tough urban jungle of Los Angeles, there are men like Beck...well, not exactly like Beck--a man who uses whatever means are necessary to retrieve whatever he is paid to bring back. A marker, a late payment or a Super Bowl ring from a quarterback with gambling debts--Beck doesn't differentiate and simply relies on his wits, his "let's get this over with" attitude and his devastating physical prowess to get the job done. For him, it's a simple, multiple-choice world: (A) Beck's way, (B) Beck's way with force, or (C)... there is no "C." Beck doesn't go looking for trouble, and he doesn't like making trouble for anyone, either. Unfortunately, trouble is what he's hired to clean up, and there's one final mess he's got to get out of before he can leave it all behind. At the center of his current trouble is a wise-ass named Travis, a fast-talking double dealer whose dad has commissioned Beck to retrieve from a lingering adventure in Brazil. Travis proves to be more of a handful than Beck expected, not only because of his mouth and his heels-dug-in reluctance to leave, but because of a couple of other complications he brings with him: Mariana, a no-nonsense local who holds the answers to some of the jungle's hidden mysteries, and Hatcher, an unhinged despot who has turned the jungle and its inhabitants into his own fortune-making, gold-mining empire. The rundown: Beck is after a guy... who's after a fortune... and now everybody's after them. So he's going to have to unleash everything he's got to keep on top of his smack-talking quarry, the girl with the secret, the crazy tyrant, the horny monkeys, the hallucinogenic fruit, the backs-to-the-wall rebels, the perilous terrain, the hidden traps and every other obstacle that this jungle throws at him.
For more about The Rundown and the The Rundown Blu-ray release, see the The Rundown Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 9, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries
Director: Peter Berg
» See full cast & crew
The Rundown Blu-ray Review
'The Rundown' is a Rock-solid release from Universal.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 9, 2009
I never met an American who didn't like guns.
The Rundown seems to be the film that both literally and metaphorically handed the title of "#1 Action star" to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The film sees a brief cameo appearance by former bodybuilder, Hollywood megastar, and current governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger (Collateral Damage), who passes innocently enough by Johnson at the beginning of the film, saying to him, "have fun," and is never seen again. Indeed, both Johnson and The Rundown are a whole lot of fun. This film is a throwback Action movie that doesn't quite re-capture the magic of Arnold and the 1980s, but gives a valiant effort nevertheless. The Rundown is something like Commando meets Romancing the Stone, two of the defining films of the 1980s, and brought together nicely here. Gone from Commando is the deliciously ridiculous action (though it's not toned down too much here), and gone from Romancing the Stone is, well, the romance, but The Rundown takes some of the best qualities from each and makes itself into a rather unique, loud, and highly entertaining Action romp that solidified Johnson as a powerhouse Action star and set in motion the career of Director Peter Berg, who has enjoyed a string of success since with Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom, and Hancock.
Beck (Johnson), an imposing bounty hunter, is ready to leave the rough-and-tumble business and open his own cozy 10-15 table restaurant. To get out of the game, he needs a few more dollars and one more job. He's asked to hunt down and return his boss's son, Travis (Seann William Scott, Mr. Woodcock), and earn a cool quarter-million dollars. Beck descends into the Amazon in search of Travis, who himself is in search of a rare artifact known as "Gato del Diablo," or "The Devil's Cat." Beck soon encounters Hatcher (Christopher Walken, Domino), himself after the Gato and working the townsfolk of El Dorado to death in the name of profit. He, too, then, holds an interest in Travis's work and whereabouts. Beck finds Travis easily enough, and the pair soon find themselves on the run from Hatcher and his goons. With the help of local bartender-by-day and rebel-leader-by-night Mariana (Rosario Dawson, Seven Pounds), the search for the Gato and a fight for survival is on -- assuming Beck and Travis don't kill one another in the process.
Dwayne Johnson is very good at what he does, and makes for the perfect Action star; he always sports an imposing, larger-than-life stature, but he's able to mix wit and charm into his routine, often alongside the action and drama. He's also a gifted performer, certainly not the next great actor, but perfect for the sorts of roles he plays, whether in a mostly serious Action flick such as The Rundown or in a more family-oriented Comedy setting as seen in The Game Plan. Much like Arnold before him, Johnson has branched out and demonstrated a range and skill set that goes beyond the muscles, but his bread-and-butter remains the Action film, and aside from the occasional comedy, fans want that hardcore, few-to-no-frills, explosive action, and Johnson is capable of putting on quite the show. Perhaps the best demonstration of that ability yet comes in The Rundown, an Action movie that is fine as it is, but lacking that hardcore edge that the best 1980s Action extravaganzas enjoyed. The film's biggest hurdle is its PG-13 rating, a rating that seems to be the bane of many a film's existences; the rating tries to straddle the fine line of attracting a wider audience while still pushing the violence, but at the end of the day, the integrity, cohesion, and feeling of completeness of many films seems to take a hit in favor of lowering the rating. Fortunately, The Rundown doesn't suffer quite as extensively as other films have before and after it. The material is borderline PG-13 to begin with; the primary character is a "violence as a last resort" type, and the action scenes featured in the film don't necessarily need to be super violent to be effective, and indeed, they are superbly choreographed, robust, and thrilling, just toned down and absent copious amounts of blood and guts.
Still, there are a few things keeping The Rundown from being "awesome" and remaining as simply an "enjoyable" Action picture. The film features a plot that isn't memorable in the least, existing almost as an afterthought to set up the various action segments and some of the more lighthearted comedic routines that sneak into the picture every now and then. That puts The Rundown right in the middle of the pack as far as structure and plot go; it's there, coherent, and easy to follow, but meaning little in the context of the bigger picture. The film also features a few questionable effects shots; several stick out like a sore thumb, but like the plot, they come and go, segueing from one scene to the next and meaning little at the end of the film. Finally, the film features limited characterization, with only Johnson's character receiving much in the way of depth and breadth. His character is portrayed as tough and secretive; he is given a sense of honor and purpose, and it's a hit-or-miss endeavor. On one hand, it adds some depth to the movie. On the other, a movie like this is all about the action, and all of the finer character nuances, like the finer points of the plot, won't be remembered in the long run. No matter the take, The Rundown does a good job of not allowing Beck's back story to bog the film down. It's mentioned now and then, eventually explained, and the film moves on with little to no sense of it having really mattered, save for the added drama of his eventual skilled use of firearms. All the other characters, including the three additional primaries -- Travis, Mariana, and Hatcher -- receive minimal development. They have a few surprises up their sleeves, but again, nothing that really mattered by the time the credits begin to roll.
The Rundown Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Rundown boasts a high quality 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. The picture looks a bit messy, though seemingly intentionally so, over the opening moments of the film. It's very dark and obscure, with colors that tint towards the red and orange side of the spectrum. The film retains a rather harsh and gritty look throughout, even if it brightens up considerably in the Amazon. The transfer retains a heavy grain structure that is evident in every scene. None of this obscures fine detail, however. Viewers will note sweat glistening off the faces of the characters, all the lines and pits in faces, and even, seemingly at times, the individual granules of dirt and blades of grass that make up the Amazonian terrain. Many interior shots reveal enormous amounts of detail, too. The locations in El Dorado are cheap, run down, old, and the transfer reveals every speck of dirt, hole in the wall, and chip of paint nicely. The transfer always appears sharp where it should. Blacks are marvelous, slipping to a dark shade of gray only once or twice. There is some very heavy and seemingly random blocking during a few interior shots inside a cave in chapter 17, but otherwise, there is little to complain about with this one. The Rundown is another visual winner from Universal.
The Rundown Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Another Tuesday, another killer soundtrack from Universal. The Rundown features a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless mix that packs quite the wallop. Bass is the highlight of the track and features both direct (explosions, thuds) and indirect (the pounding beats heard street-side from a closed-door club) excitement. The subwoofer will be sweating and panting at the end of this one. It easily enjoys a Dwayne Johnson-caliber workout. Dialogue is also strong and bass-heavy. Several times throughout the film, gunshots ring out, ricochet, and fly all over the soundstage with pinpoint accuracy and power. Directional effects are superb in every action sequence, and ambience is excellent, particularly in the jungle environs, where it is both subtle and effective. The soundstage comes alive to place the audience in the midst of the Amazon, encircling listeners with all of the natural (and sometimes unnatural) sounds that bring each scene to vivid life. The "Monkey" sequence in chapter 13 is one of the best in the film; "dynamic" and "loud" defines the experience, with a subsequent gunshot filling the soundstage with superb authority and power. The film's music plays precisely. It is primarily front-heavy but offers excellent fidelity. The sonic highlight of the film comes in chapter 17 as a cave collapses around the characters. it's loud, scary, and rattles from every single corner of the soundstage, making for a thrilling listen. The film's climax, too, comes complete with some of the heaviest and most consistent uses of bass yet. The Rundown makes a strong case as one of the most exhilarating and action-packed listens yet on Blu-ray.
The Rundown Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Rundown features a hefty supplemental package. Two commentary tracks lead the charge, the first featuring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Director Peter Berg. The track is completely off-the-wall, mixing real information with jokes galore. It's hard to switch off, and flows nicely. It's different to be sure, very relaxed, and often completely hilarious. Track two features Producers Kevin Misher and Marc Abraham. This track is drier and more technical in nature, and seems to drag considerably after the light, easygoing nature of the Actor and Director track. It's still informative and worth a listen for fans, but easily more of a standard, "ho-hum" commentary. Next are a series of deleted scenes (480p, 13:50). Rumble in the Jungle (480p, 10:32) takes a detailed look at the fight choreography seen in the film. The Amazon, Hawaii Style (480p, 5:27) looks at the exotic filming locations as seen in the film. Appetite for Destruction (480p, 8:20) looks at the making of some of the film's most explosive stunts. 'The Rundown' Uncensored (480p, 6:08) is a comical piece that looks at the animal stunts as seen in the film. Running Down the Town (480p, 4:09) is a short piece that looks at the construction of one of the film's primary sets. Walken's World (480p, 5:33) examines star Christopher Walken's character and the professionalism, comedy, and charm he brought to his role. Finally, this disc is BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) enabled.
The Rundown Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Rundown isn't a particularly great movie, but it's better-than-average action fare that solidifies Dwayne Johnson as the next Arnold, and he doesn't disappoint. The movie places just about everything behind the action, including character development and plot nuances, but it moves at a wonderful pace and features good performances from the lead characters, particularly from Johnson and Walken. The Rundown makes good use of all its assets, and while it could have been better (like most movies out there), it's a perfectly enjoyable flick as-is and well worth a watch. As far as the actual quality of the disc, it is more than obvious that Universal has done it again! The Rundown boasts fine picture quality, an amazing soundtrack, and plenty of supplements. Fans of the movie should have no reservations about making this one a permanent addition to the Blu-ray collection. Recommended to Action fans.
The Rundown: Other Editions
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The Rundown Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Rock Gets a Blu-ray Set - January 23, 2009
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'The Rock Collection' to Blu-ray on February 10th. This three-disc set will feature the Blu-ray releases of 'The Rundown', 'Doom', and 'The Scorpion King', which all feature 1080p video accompanied ...
• Doom; The Rundown Announced for Blu-ray - November 25, 2008
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has revealed that they will bring the Dwayne Johnson films 'Doom: Unrated' and 'The Rundown' to Blu-ray on February 10th. Both of these titles were previously available on the HD DVD format, though it does not appear they will ...
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