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American Bounty Hunter

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. "The Rundown"

In this inventive escapist thriller, The Rock (aka, Dwayne Johnson) is the kick ass hero we [men] all want to be. He's funny, edgily controlled and pounds the daylights out of the badasses that threaten him. In the quiet spaces before and after his fights, he's planning the menu for the restaurant he dreams of opening. An endearing guy.

The opening sequence is the setup telling us who we're dealing with. As the bounty hunter Beck, (The Rock) he's running down a gambling deadbeat who owes his boss $10K. His mark, a superbowl quarterback, is sitting in a bar amidst his women and fellow teammates. His fellow large teammates.

Ignoring their size and number, Beck gives the quarterback two choices: voluntarily pay up in full either in money or with his superbowl ring or... involuntarily. The laughter at this sets off the melee as the big brawny football players soon realize from their positions on the floor or wrapped around a post that option one was the better choice. Beck emerges with the ring, nary a scratch and in his usual good mood.

But, that's only to tell us what the really bad guys are in for.

Beck is actually working off his own debt to Walker, (William Lucking) his deadly and crazed boss, before he can open his restaurant and agrees, as a final rundown, to bring back from the Brazilian jungle Walker's son, Travis (Seann William Scott).

Travis, a self-styled archeologist, tracking down a mysterious and valuable artifact, has wound up in a remote mining town owned and completely controlled by a greedy tyrant, American businessman Hatcher (Christopher Walken) who is exploiting the mineral resouces while subjugating the native population. But Travis is more interested in tracking down his artifact and borrowing local gorgeous barmaid Mariana's (Rosario Dawson) father's boat to get through the jungle on the river in order to get to his quarry.

Beck, a pragmatic man, keeps his eye on the prize and does whatever's necessary to get Travis, including a payoff to Hatcher for the privilege to do so without interference from his men. But Hatcher finds out about the value of the artifact and pulls a double cross, one that demolishes the bar and the Hatcher gang in the same style as that poor football team.

The rest of the exploit involves Travis bickering with Beck about returning home, convincing Beck to find the artifact, and doing a great deal about correcting the injustices Hatcher has perpetrated upon the people and his latest captive, Mariana.

All of which provides for many applications of Beck's devestating style in fight sequences that are cleverly conceived and as fiercely applied as any action blockbuster, including an encounter with some nasty jungle monkeys and the final set piece, one man against an entrenched small army. What's The Rock trying to do, out-stunt Vin Diesel and the man, himself, Arnold?

The fact is, once away from the cgi-aided monsters he's been playing ("The Scorpion King") with the special rigs, machinery and effects stripped off, we see the man and his considerable muscles and, most of all, the sweet personality that leads us pleasurably through these jungle exploits in the company of that endearing manner we mentioned previously. The Rock rocks. He's down to earth, natural as a tree leaf and funny. Even Arnold (who appears in a brief cameo) is ready to make room.

Providing good chemistry as the audacious bounty and general irritant, Scott proves an expert foil for the straight-ahead would-be restaurateur. Dawson provides the other kind of chemistry with heart thumping beauty. Her face hits the screen and it's palpitation time. Exquisite and talented.

Walken, an American phenomenon of an actor who seems to go for anything that provides a paycheck, rises to the top of his movie personnas to deliver a villain of the proportions of a Marlon Brando. Stepping away from idiotic "Kangaroo Jack" and "Poolhall Junkies" fare, he is his best bizarre, singular self as the South American maggot of a mining mogul.

All of which is a big score for the high paced direction by Peter Berg who fulfills our fantasies in exemplary style that's tasteful, ambitious and without a lingering moment.

It adds up to prime stuff for us action junkies and admiration for the new guy in town, The Rock. We wish him more of the above and a reversion to his plain name, Dwayne Johnson.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

The Soundtrack album


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Site Rating: 8

This review is on par with the quality of the movie which is a feel-good noble movie!

                                                    ~~ Carol

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