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   Fri, September 26, 2003



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Rock the real deal
By LOUIS B. HOBSON, CALGARY SUN


With Bruce Willis in his 40s, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in their 50s and Harrison Ford in his 60s, Hollywood is understandably searching for a new action hero to save the day. The way Dwayne Johnson pulls off the jokes and macho stunts in The Rundown, Hollywood may just have found its new action king.

At 31, Johnson who earned his fame as wrestling's The Rock, has a youthful, imposing screen presence and a charming ease with the camera.

He's a big man who has no problem delivering his character's over-the-top dialogue or bigger-than-life stunts.

The Rundown doesn't ask Johnson to take himself seriously so neither should audiences -- it's just pure action adventure fun.

Johnson is Beck, a bounty hunter who'd rather be stirring a pot of gumbo than stirring up trouble in a Brazilian jungle.

Trouble is, Beck owes a favour to a mob boss who insists he do one more job before the debt is cancelled.

Beck has to go to Brazil to fetch the gangster's son Travis (Seann William Scott), who has a few debts of his own back home.

As with so many action comedies, Beck and Travis are oil and water. And this pairing pays off big time -- Scott's mouth is a match for Johnson's brawn.

Travis is a smarmy weasel who keeps nipping at the big guy, who has to keep knocking him down a couple of pegs.

Add to this winning comic chemistry Christopher Walken's super nasty villain Hatcher and Rosario Dawson's sexy, mysterious barmaid, and there's no stopping The Rundown.

Walken makes Hatcher unconscionably evil but he so much fun, you end up hoping he'll stay around to the last explosion. And it's fun watching Dawson play sexual cat-and-mouse games with the lusty Travis.

Screenwriters R.J. Stewart and James Vanderbilt have tailored their script for their stars.

There are a good half-dozen action set pieces that are alternately hilarious and breath-taking.

The duo's encounters with snarling monkeys, karate-chopping natives and hallucinogenic jungle fruit are as memorable as the final showdown in which Beck and Travis level an entire town.

The Rundown works because director Peter Berg doesn't ask us to think, but rather join Beck and Travis in their manic, life-threatening, life-altering jungle adventure.

It's pretty safe to say, audiences haven't seen the last of Beck and Travis -- they're the screen's newest and most lethal weapons.

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SUN RATING: 3 1/2 out of 5

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Playing at:

Sunridge Spectrum

Crowfoot Crossing

Eau Claire Market