As Schwarzenegger ascends form wielder for fake movie weapons to wielder of political power, a gap is left in the Hollywood pantheon. A number of people have speculated about whether or not that gap is in the shape of Dwayne Douglas Johnson, the man made famous by wrestling as "The Rock."
I admit to having a bias against The Rock after seeing the horrible "Return of the Mummy" debacle. I skipped "The Scorpion King" altogether. So I can't explain why I decided to actually pay to see "The Rundown" - the recent vehicle for the musclebound up-and-comer.
"The Rundown" has a simple enough formula, a variation of which is used in a favorite film of mine: "Midnight Run." The Rock plays go-to-guy Beck who, in debt to a ruthless man, plies his expertise at retrieving collateral from other debtors. Given a chance at working himself free and clear, he agrees to retrieve the man's son Travis, played annoyingly here by Sean William Scott.
Big tough guy retrieves annoying little guy. Mayhem and hilarity ensue.
But from the opening introductory scene, we know that the humor is going to mostly be found in the fight scenes, which are dressed up enough from wrestling fights that they actually are quite entertaining. Leveraging off his ability to look goofy getting beat up and then coming back to lay the smackdown, The Rock as Beck portrays a likeable, if frustrated, main character.
His quasi-evil foil Hatcher played twitchingly and campily by Christopher Walken doesn't figure into the film more than to deliver some choice lines and provide some closure at the end. Still, he adds spice to a film that does a good job of filling the time without getting monotonous.
My mistake with The Rock was that I didn't realize he had personality, or (even better) the ability to act and pretend he has a personality. He's no DeNiro, sure, but as a fan of films like "Total Recall," "Commando," and others like it, I can safely say that The Rock has a future and that you'll see the potential. And if you really like "The Running Man" you have to agree that "The Rundown" surpasses a number of Arnold's films. That alone makes it worth seeing for the passing of the torch (which happens sneakily in the beginning of this film. Don't blink or you'll miss it).
Even so, I doubt "The Rundown" will be remembered much in 5 years. But by that time, someone will have made a really noticeable movie with The Rock.