|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Friday, 30 January 2009|
This film follows, Beck (The Rock), a bounty hunter that is hired by a father to go into the Amazon jungle and bring back his disgrace of a son, Travis (Seann William Scott). Beck figures that it will be a quick pay day and agrees, somewhat reluctantly however. Once Beck finds Travis, Travis is annoying enough that Beck agrees to retrieve a hidden treasure with him and then take him back to the States.
Along the way, the duo meet Mariana (Rosario Dawson), who looks fabulous, and she makes it non-negotiable that she tags along if they want her boat. The story has a few twists in it. Further along the way, the trio get caught up in Hatcher’s exploitation of the natives and land in order to mine. His treatment of the people is unacceptable to Beck and he finally joins in on the people’s cause. The treasure seemingly takes a back seat at the end of the film. The story doesn’t seem to know which direction it wants to head. Still, it somehow comes together and takes us on a get butt ride.
There is a lot of one-liner jokes in this film, but The Rock and Seann William Scott play nicely off of each other and the whole thing works. Dawson is a firecracker that lights of the screen. She brings intensity to the screen that matches Beck’s.
Peter Berg is only in his mid-30s, but he has had quite the career. He delves into all the aspects of films and has credits including Director, Actor and Producer. His directorial credits include, “The Rundown,” “Friday Night Lights,” “The Kingdom,” “Hancock,” and the upcoming “Dune.” He has acted in numerous TV shows and films since the mid-80s. In directing this film, he brings out the best in his actors for the type of movie that it is. My only acting criticism would be Christopher Walken as Hatcher. At times his acting is cheesy and over the top.
The original DVD presentation of “The Rundown” was plagued by over-saturated colors to bring out the jungle location. This caused enormously plugged faces and even some bleeding among the colors, particularly the yellows and oranges. The HD DVD release had the same issues and it is unfortunate to have to report that the Blu-ray has the same 1080p/VC-1 encode. Still, the video quality is quite good and I love the colors. The colors a beautiful but fake. All the colors are surreal, especially the greens and oranges. The details are not as good as they could be. The jungle doesn’t quite pop off the screen, even with the saturation of colors. The printmaster is very clean, free from scratches and dirt. Contrast is quite nice. The image is harp, with only a few soft sequences showing up in the film. The Blu-ray offers a massive upgrade form the DVD presentation.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD 5.1, an upgrade from the HD DVD’s Dolby Digital-Plus. The audio track is far superior than the SD DVD, but is only slightly better than the HD DVD’s track. The sound design of the film is quite impressive. The LFE channel is present throughout the film and rounds out the low-end quite nicely. The balance of the soundtrack is a bit off. The dialogue remains a bit low, while the sound effects go a bit too high. The dynamic range is expansive to the point where you may be reaching for the volume controller when the film hits the action sequences. Surround channels are filled during the action parts with discrete effects. Ambience is a bit soft in the surrounds, but it is present. Overall this is quite an impressive audio track. There are moments of reference material on this Blu-ray.
All special features from the DVD and HD DVD have been transferred over. They remain in standard definition, but is a rather good supplemental package. First, there is an audio commentary director Peter Berg and The Rock. There is a second audio commentary is with producers Marc Abraham and Kevin Misher. The second commentary is far more interesting. However, it felt like the two tracks could have been edited together. Neither one holds up completely on its own. There are a host of brief featurettes, totaling less than 30 minutes.. First, “Rumble in the Jungle” goes behind the scenes of the film’s fight scenes. “The Amazon, Hawaii Style” covers the location of Hawaii as the Amazon jungle. “Running Down the Town” is another featurette on locations. “Walken’s World” is a Christopher Walken tribute. “The Rundown Uncensored” contains snippets created by animal trainer Kevin Keith. Lastly there is “Appetite for Destruction” and nine deleted scenes with optional commentary. The disc is also BD-Live enabled. Easter Eggs have been reported for this Blu-ray disc as well.
“The Rundown” is true fun. It really will surprise you. The video and audio quality could be a bit better, but they are still tremendous upgrades over the standard DVD. I recommend adding this film to your collection.