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Two quirks define Dwayne Johnson’s muscled character, Beck, in The Rundown. One, he’s an aspiring chef. By Rundown’s end, it’s assumed that passion led to him opening a restaurant. And two, Beck doesn’t use guns; how unusual for a bounty hunter. Someone quips, “Never met an American who doesn’t like guns.” Beck is an enigma.

All of Beck’s character growth then happens during the final brawl. Pinned down in a Brazilian mining town, Beck grabs two shotguns. In tandem, he starts wiping out the totalitarian-esque, capitalist forces owned and run by a gleefully villainous Christopher Walken. Turns out, Beck isn’t such an enigma after all.

For a wild rumble/buddy flick, Rundown isn’t shy in its purpose. While everything plays to pattern for much of the runtime – Beck travels to Brazil to snag a rich man’s sarcastic son – that final chapter is worth revisiting.

What came before was a perfect vehicle for (then) young action movie superstar Johnson, who at that time still held various pro wrestling championships. Here, he needs to deliver convincing punches and bodyslams (done) and trade barbs as a no-nonsense head hunter against Sean William Scott’s screechy trust fund kid (also done).

When things settle down and there’s a damsel to save, The Rundown digs in its heels. Brazilians find themselves exploited by a greedy and harsh mine owner. For Beck, it’s no longer about the money from his job, nor for Scott’s character either. Rather, doing the right thing. Not only does Beck refuse guns (for a while, anyway), he turns on profit. No one met an American “who doesn’t like profit” is a more accurate statement.

Situational awareness is where The Rundown finds its laughs

So there’s the hero, chasing down Walken who exists mostly to chew scenery and snivel at things. When Walken’s time comes, he’s baffled as to why the locals hate him, oblivious to the inequality and to his own cruelty. It’s a fine speech by Walken, delivered after a couple of explosions, stampeding cattle, and gunfire exchanges.

Rundown still thirsts for those action movie dynamics, making the most of its star in a memorable showcase of violence, all to point out that a westerner “pumping the blood from the modern world” into an impoverished country isn’t an ultimate solution. That’s a grand bit of prophesying from 2003 as America entered a second middle eastern conflict.

Note this is often hilarious too. Maybe not as much for the buddy antics – those read all too cliché with few exceptions – but for the sheer indecency of Johnson’s face being humped by a monkey. Situational awareness is where The Rundown finds its laughs. Those situations number in the many, and with enough enthusiasm and variety to override the cliches.

Video

Mill Creek takes over for Universal who issued The Rundown in a few Blu-ray configurations prior (plus an HD DVD). Based on this transfer, it’s clear nothing was changed in bringing this to Blu-ray again.

Significant black crush partly represents post-production grading, that more akin to the hyper contrast used by Tony Scott or Michael Bay. Here, it’s too far. Black levels swallow everything, from indoor scenery to outdoors. There’s no leeway given to shadow detail. Instead, Rundown loses fidelity and depth to a transfer that, with the speed of modern tech, is an elder.

Along with black levels, there’s a ferocious dose of warmth injected into the color spectrum. Flesh tones steer toward bold, bright… orange. Variance is a lost art. While jungles produce some greenery, that too warms, a victim of the early era of digital color grading. An attempt to modernize or tweak will need to wait until a true remaster.

Spotting detail isn’t difficult, at least in close. While not the sharpest or most resolved, facial definition sticks out definitively. When the camera pulls back, things start to wane. Low resolution material chokes on scenery. Poorly resolved grain suffers from compression faults, including some banding, further softening these images. Rundown needs specialized care to recover.

Audio

Exhibiting a wide soundstage, Rundown comes with a DTS-HD 5.1 track using the space consistently and well. Precise mixing keeps this material lively and energetic. Scenes in small towns flutter with ambiance. A club opening sends music and voices spreading around.

Action comes in with equal separation, taking whips and moving them about. Gunfire stretches to the rears. Vehicles pan elegantly, better than some modern mixes. A great cave sequence features both falling boulders and splintering wood; every channel sees use in bringing that to life.

Bass has a tendency to overdrive, resulting in a puffy output, but only occasionally. Punches and kicks hit with thickness, accentuating Johnson’s power. There’s a stampede to come, a rumbler for sure. Explosions do their thing and it’s satisfying.

Extras

Nothing. You can choose subtitles on the main menu, but that’s the only thing to choose from.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Rundown
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

One of Dwayne Johnson’s earliest action outings, The Rundown is still plenty of fun to watch with a stellar third act revelation.

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