Mr. Beck (“The Rock,” a.k.a Dwayne Johnson) is a highly paid retriever of important missing items like jewelry, weapons, and people. What he really wants is to open his own restaurant, but because he is in big debt, he accepts the occasional bounty hunter job. His self-proclaimed “final job” is to find a mob boss’s son, Travis Walker, a Stanford dropout apparently living somewhere in the Amazon. If Beck brings the lad home, he’ll get $250,000, enough to get out of the business forever and start his restaurant. He hires a small plane with wings duct taped together by its pilot, Declan, who spouts off Scripture with a Scottish accent while flying into the beautiful Amazon jungle. Declan also warns Beck to stay away from the local rebels who hide out in the jungle and are known to be cruel.
Meanwhile, in a small tavern along the Amazon, the elusive Travis Walker is asking the beautiful bartender, Mariana, if he can borrow her uncle’s boat. He confesses to knowing where the “Gato de Diablo,” or “Devil Cat” gold artifact is hidden. Mariana believes him and agrees to the loan on the condition that Walker consent to a 50/50 split of the proceeds.
Finding his way into the same town, El Dorado, Beck discovers the ruthless, greedy Hatcher, played by Christopher Walken, who has “hired” all the townsfolk to mine a quarry for precious metals at the rate of sixty cents a day. Hatcher’s henchmen have leather whips, which they use without hesitation if they don’t like the attitude of a townsperson protesting being shorted on a deal. Beck comments that it looks like a living hell, to which Hatcher replies that what hell is to one person may actually be a “spellbinding sense of purpose” to another person. He brags about his methods of employing the people while enormous income for himself. He negotiates the release of Walker from his employment for the sum of $15,000.
Beck pays the money and goes to the bar to retrieve the boy. After a tough scuffle, Walker is captured. Just as they are leaving, Hatcher shows up at the bar refusing Walker’s release on account of the “Gato de Diablo.” Hatcher demands to be taken to it, but in the ensuing scuffle, Beck takes down the henchmen and escapes with Walker.
As they drive away, Walker suddenly screams, “Enjoy the fall!” grabs the wheel, and sends the jeep barreling down the side of a mountain. The men jump out and roll down the hill where they find themselves in the midst of a band of rebels. Speaking broken Spanish, Walker tells them that Beck works for Hatcher, is not to be trusted, and really wants to fight them. Fight he does! Beck takes on six good rebel fighters and ends up with their undying respect. Just then Mariana shows up. Walker is shocked that she is also a rebel fighter and admits to also wanting the “Gato” to sell for the rebuilding of the townspeople’s lives.
After a surprise attack by Hatcher and his men, Beck, Walker, and Mariana decide to team up and find the treasure, while trying also to evade the vicious Hatcher and his whip-laden henchmen. Beck vows to take Walker back home afterwards, but Beck has plans of his own as does Mariana. The future of the beaten-down El Dorado townsfolk, as well that of Beck’s restaurant, hinge upon whether or not the threesome can form a trustworthy team.
With outstanding action sequences, cinematography, timing, humor, and suspense, RUNDOWN should see some serious box office activity this fall. For moral audiences, however, there are some issues to consider. The foul language is excessive with about 33 obscenities and some obscene gestures. There is also excessive violence, with men being shot to death, gunned down, multiple fist fights, a head being knocked off, and bulls charging townspeople. As far as sexual content is concerned, there is a running joke about jungle monkeys that keep trying to “make advances” on the protagonist as he’s caught in a trap, and there are several scenes where the shapely Mariana is sporting a wet T-shirt as she swims in the jungle streams. The Scripture-spouting pilot is a bit off in the head, it seems, and is also unwilling to help with the fighting. He finally helps, in his own way, by playing the bagpipes to divert the bad guy’s attention away from our hero.
Overall, the movie is a high-dollar, white-knuckled action film with sporadic moments of breathtaking beauty and laughter. The writing is good, and the comedic scenes are tight. The movie’s tone is humanist, with the strength of man and the power of his weapons being the all-important answer to the social ills of third world countries. In addition to quotes from Scripture, however, there are several other positive Christian elements in the movie. These include a God bless you, and, most importantly, prominent shots of the local Christian church when the good guys subdue the villain. As with many action films, however, there is no overt preaching to the story. . . just lots of non-stop adventure in exotic locations.
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SUMMARY: In RUNDOWN, The Rock attempts to square a debt by heading to the Amazon jungle to capture a kid, but instead finds himself also dealing with a tyrant, a love interest and some powerful freedom fighters. With incredible cinematography, writing and acting, RUNDOWN is marred by the violence, humanism, and foul language typical of high-action films.
(H, B, C, LLL, VVV, S, A, DD, M) Humanist, heroic worldview with strength, weaponry, and the current reasoning of man being the end all to end all, with some positive moral, Christian elements including self-sacrifice, shots of the town church when the good guys are victorious, man says God bless you, and man quotes Scripture; 33 obscenities and a couple obscene gestures; violence, fist fights, gunfights, man shot to death, man's head blown off, and bulls stampeding townsfolk; sex, crude humor about sexually aggressive monkeys, and wet T-shirt depictions; some alcohol portrayed in jungle bar; drug use portrayed with girl tricking friends with jungle fruit that causes hallucinations; and, lying, cheating, murder, and slavery.