The Rundown (2003)


I’d Offer You a Beer, But It Seems You Blew Up My Bar.

The first day of my challenge leading up to my birthday gets things kicked off with a bang.  I’ve picked my favorite movie in the action genre.  There are a few things I’d like to make clear when it comes to these selections.  First, I’m not saying that today’s movie is the hands down best action movie ever made.  I’m saying it’s my favorite.  It’s my birthday and I’ll review what I want to!  Second, it also had to be a movie that I haven’t already reviewed because it wouldn’t really count as one a day if I just copied and pasted a previous review.  And third, I didn’t want them to cross categories.  Also, I kind of just looked through my DVD’s and grabbed any candidates that occurred to me.  So yeah, I may have forgotten about movies like Terminator 2 and Predator, but I’m comfortable with the decision I made.  Like I said before, it’s not necessarily the best action movie, but certainly a favorite of mine.  And so, I bring you my review of The Rundown, written by James Vanderbilt and R.J. Stewart, directed by Peter Berg, and starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Seann William Scott, Christopher Walken, Rosario Dawson, William Lucking, Ewen Bremner, Ernie Reyes Jr., and Jon Gries.

Beck (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is a retrieval expert who is pretty damned good at what he does, even though he’s not that into his profession.  He only does it to pay off a debt that he owes his boss, Billy Walker (William Lucking) and to get enough money to open his own restaurant.  Billy offers Beck one more job to clear his debt and earn enough money to achieve his goal.  That job: go to South America and retrieve Billy’s son, Travis (Seann William Scott), who is down there searching for a golden artifact called “el Gato Diablo”.  Beck catches a ride with an eccentric pilot named Declan (Ewen Bremner) and starts his search.  Beck’s even kind enough to pay a visit (and a lot of money) to the corrupt de facto owner of the town, Cornelius Bernard Hatcher (Christopher Walken), to make sure he’s not stepping on any toes.  He finds Travis at a bar owned by Mariana (Rosario Dawson), but he also finds trouble when Hatcher decides that Travis was close to finding the Gato and he no longer feels like Beck should take him.

I guess this contest is not going to be bringing any surprises when it comes to my opinion, so the fun will have to lie in the justification.  I love this movie.  I will grant the conceit that things in this movie have been done before, and the movie also seems disinterested in surprising you along the way.  What it wants is fun, and it delivers that throughout.  But, as always, we’ll focus on story first.  The basic idea of the story is a combination of various things that have been done many times in the past.  It’s a bounty hunter movie, it’s a rebellion against oppressive forces movie, it’s a buddy picture, and it’s even kind of a love story that they start and don’t finish.  In fact, the greater majority of the buddy picture parts of this movie seemed straight out of my dim recollection of the Damon Wayans/Adam Sandler movie Bulletproof; a movie that I kind of want to watch now that I’ve thought about it.  But that will have to wait until after the contest is finished.  But we already know that it’s the journey and not the destination, and the journey is very well done.  Loads of good action, great scenery to put around it, and some clever dialogue to boot.  When Beck was talking to his boss in the beginning about not wanting to get the money from the starting lineup of a football team, not because he’s worried about injury for himself but because he’s worried that he’ll hurt them and “they have a good chance of repeating”, it’s funny and lets us know that this guy is a badass.  A good amount of the funny that came from Travis seemed like it was improvised.  Seann William Scott talked a lot, but a decent enough portion was funny.  Calling Beck “Wolfgang Stuck” amused me.  I also liked when he played the rebels against Beck.  The baboons humping Beck’s face was a little low-brow, but that’s not to say I didn’t think it was funny.  I felt like they could’ve tried harder with the rebels.  They seemed to try to rush us to caring about them with a quick conversation and the handing over of a necklace, but we didn’t have enough time to get to know them to actually care about what would happen to them.

I loved the action in this movie.  On occasion, I’d say I’ve had my fill of shootouts in movies.  They’re usually not that visually interesting.  I get the feeling that Peter Berg agrees with me to some degree because he made his main character refuse to use guns.  People would pull guns, but he’d quickly disarm them and get to the beatings.  And who would’ve known that a fight with “Get Your Freak On” by Missy Elliot playing in the background would work?  Not me before this movie did it, I’ll tell you that much.  But Beck was so against using guns that he found other creative ways to use guns.  The one I liked the most was when he tripped Travis by popping the clip out of the gun, causing it to slide across the floor and underneath his foot, causing him to fall on his ass.  There are also two possible outcomes to your main character having an aversion to guns.  The first one is that he’ll have a sappy, mopey story about how a gun killed his wife or some shit, and the second is that he’ll pick up guns and be epic with them.  Thankfully, they chose the latter.  We know it’s coming, but he uses those guns in such awesome and creative ways – ways I’ve never seen guns used before or after – that I don’t give a damn.  Some of the things that Beck does in the movie border on superhuman, but I actually believe it from the Rock.

I loved every single performance in this movie.  For someone with a less than admirable job, the Rock always came off as extra charming. This first occurred to me when he was accidentally getting the autograph from the quarterback in the beginning of the movie.  He had such happiness on his face, like a child getting an autograph from Mickey Mouse.  He doesn’t keep that innocence for long because it quickly becomes time to beat some ass.  For some reason, the Rock is really good at fake fighting.  I can’t figure it out.  Probably just a natural gift.  Seann William Scott was playing a lot more for comedy.  He wasn’t always funny, maybe landing on about 70% of the random things he said, but he was still good.  What helped it more was that he and the Rock had a great chemistry that made all of their parts together that much better.  Christopher Walken is fantastic in this movie.  He’s definitely funny, especially coming from someone who knew he was watching a movie and that this character wasn’t real.  But, even though he was funny, I get the feeling that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere around that character if he was real.  He pulled off intimidation very well.  But it’s Christopher Walken.  What do you expect?  I get the feeling that Rosario Dawson wasn’t really trying to be sexy at all in this movie.  Thankfully, she has no say in the matter.  You’re gonna be sexy and you’re gonna like it, missy!  She also had a great character.  She was also very charming and certainly no damsel in distress.  Ewen Bremner was the comic relief character and you know what I generally say about comic relief people: only this guy has done it without annoying me that I can presently think of.  His big joke was mainly his super thick accent, but he worked it well.

I love the Rundown and I don’t care who knows it.  This is one of the best, and most fun, action movies that I can think of.  The story is basic, unsurprising, and it’s been done before, but some great writing, fantastic action, and outstanding performances elevate it to be one of my favorite action movies ever.  Of course you should watch this movie!  You should own this movie!  And you should fuck yourself if you disagree with me.  The Rundown gets “Establish dominance!  Establish dominance!” out of “Have fun.”

Congratulations goes to my friend Eric for being the one who finally guessed the movie.  And a special shout out goes to Chris and Fabio for trying so hard.

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Goon (2012)


Two Rules, Man: Stay Away From My Percocets, and Do You Have Any Percocets?

I haven’t seen that much of my friend Jordan over the course of the last year, but the two times that we did get together he used the time to beat me over the head and penis with his affection for today’s movie.  He may not have officially requested that I review the movie, but that kind of ringing endorsement makes me feel that it’s a necessity.  I still wasn’t willing to go out of my way to find the movie though.  When I walked into a Wal-Mart today and saw the movie on the main page of a RedBox, it seemed like God was speaking to me and saying, “It is time.”  And I’m not one to argue with God.  That could end badly for me.  And so, with God’s blessings, I bring you my review of Goon, written by Evan Goldberg and Jay Baruchel, directed by Michael Dowse, and starring Seann William Scott, Marc-Andre Grondin, Liev Schreiber, Kim Coates, Alison Pill, Jay Baruchel, Ricky Mabe, Eugene Levy, and David Paetkau.

Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is a bouncer with no real direction in his life and, because of this, he’s somewhat of a disappointment to his father (Eugene Levy), though possibly not more of a disappointment to his father than his gay brother Ira (David Paetkau).  Doug attends a hockey game with his friend Pat (Jay Baruchel), who angers one of the visiting players enough to make him call Pat a “faggot” and attempt to attack him.  To defend his friend and his brother’s honor, Doug beats the player senseless to try to get him to take back the f-word he used.  This impresses the home team’s captain and he invites Doug to join the team, ignoring the fact that he can’t skate and has virtually no hockey skills.  Eventually, his fighting skill gives his coach an idea.  In the slightly more major leagues, a veteran enforcer named Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber) gave a major concussion to a highly skilled prospect named Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin), leading to him being too afraid to play at his full skill level and also leading him into drugs and other such unsavory behaviors.  Doug is taken to the Halifax Highlanders to protect Laflamme and help him get his confidence back.

As with most movies, this movie was nowhere near as funny as I was told it was.  That may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but it is the truth.  Though I didn’t find the movie laugh out loud funny, I must admit that I left the movie being fairly charmed by it.  Early on in the movie, I did find myself a little resentful of the movie because I have heard Kevin Smith talking about his next movie that he’s making and it sounds an awful lot like this movie.  And Seann William Scott and Ricky Mabe have both worked with Smith before.  Not saying they copied the idea; saying they stole the idea!  Okay, that’s not true.  Though it sounds so much like Hit Somebody, I haven’t seen that movie yet.  This movie is a pretty good sports movie, but not that many of the jokes really won with me.  The only one that I remember Jordan spoiling for me was the part where the two Russian guys are making fun of their teammate’s mother, saying that her pussy is so tight that there’s no way she gave birth to a baby and ending it with, “You’re adopted.”  This part was pretty funny, even though Jordan ruined it by doing a pretty solid impression of it.  But that was the only part of the movie I found funny.  The rest of the movie was amusing, but not much more than that.  In fact, around the middle of the movie it seems to forget that it’s supposed to be a comedy, instead getting a little mopey and focusing on the relationship with Eva that I never really cared about.  But, this is also a sports movie, and it definitely succeeds on that.  You root for Doug from the word go, and are pretty happy to see things work out for him.  When he gets injured around the end of the movie and the team finally comes together to throw down with the opposing team, it was entirely awesome.  And when the inevitable showdown between Rhea and Doug happens, it’s built up to very well and was very satisfying.

Another thing that helped the movie was how well it was filmed.  The violence felt real, the music always helped, and the director used lots of interesting camera techniques.  The blood spurts in this movie are frequent and the wounds look real and not over the top.  You even see a few lost teeth.  The greater majority of the music did an excellent job of getting me amped up.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a montage with Rush’s “Working Man” playing under it, and that’s a problem.  It was excellent.  I was not a fan of whatever rap song the movie ended with, but that was after the movie was done anyway.  And I really appreciated the innovative camera techniques they used in the movie.  I’ve probably seen a camera looking like it was strapped to a person’s fist while punching another guy, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hockey game from the perspective of the puck before.

I wasn’t all about the performances of this movie, but I wasn’t disappointed by them either.  I appreciated that Seann William Scott seems like he put on a shit ton of weight and muscle for the role.  He was friggin’ yoked.  His performance didn’t really work for me though.  I understand the reasoning behind playing the role super stupid, but it also meant that he wouldn’t be saying anything particularly funny or witty and all of his comedy would need to come simply from his stupidity.  So that never worked.  Alison Pill also didn’t do anything for me in the movie.  She never did anything funny and, I can only assume, attempted to get comedy from saying things that are uncommon for women to say, like saying she likes to fuck a lot of guys.  And, though she is cute, I never really believed somebody falling in love with her at first sight.  Liev Schreiber worked for me though.  He was definitely a badass, but made the cool choice to not play his character like a one dimensional bad guy character.  He was a major antagonist in the movie, but he was also a really likeable guy and showed a great deal of respect for the main character.  Jay Baruchel had some moments of funniness, but more often seemed like he was just trying too hard.

Though Goon didn’t work for me as a comedy, it did work for me as a movie in total.  It was a good sports story with a lot of cool violence and interesting camera techniques, but the bulk of the movie was only somewhat amusing with few solid laughs.  Some of the performances didn’t do a lot for me as well.  But, by the end of the movie, I did find that it had charmed me and that I enjoyed the experience.  If you go in with low comedic expectations, you’ll probably find it funny enough and I think that you’ll find it an enjoyable watch.  I recommend this movie.  And, since you can find it on a RedBox near you, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a shot.  Goon gets “That’s the first win in a month!” out of “Greek fuckin’ underground gay porn hard!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.