Dwayne Johnson’s Forgotten Action Movie Is Finally Being Appreciated On Streaming

Dwayne Johnson starred in The Rundown, a forgotten film from 2003 which is topping the charts on Amazon Prime.

By Phillip Moyer | Published

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is now well-established as a movie star, with starring roles in Black AdamMoana, and the Fast & Furious franchise. But back in 2003, when he was still known as a WWE wrestler, he starred in a well-reviewed film called The Rundown. The movie flopped at the box office, but now Flixpatrol reports that the movie has started rising up the streaming charts — getting as high as the sixth-most-viewed movie on Amazon Prime.

Even though he was still a professional wrestler at the time, Dwayne Johnson had already made headway as a Hollywood actor before starring in The Rundown. After a few appearances on TV shows such as That ’70s Show and Star Trek: Voyager, he appeared in several early 2000s movies such as The Mummy Returns and Longshot. He eventually was given a starring role in the 2002 film The Scorpion King, making The Rundown only Dwayne Johnson’s second starring role.

The Rundown stars Dwayne Johnson (credited only as “The Rock” at the time) as a bounty hunter who sets out to retrieve his employer’s son (played by American Pie actor Sean William Scott) from a small Brazillian town. From there, both end up retrieving an ancient golden artifact and then team up with a resistance movement to fight against the violent owner of a local mining operation (played by Christopher Walken).

While the movie is a bit uneven (there’s a scene involving monkeys that’s about as bad as the infamous monkey scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), as a whole package it manages to stay enjoyable. Many of its action setpieces still feel fresh to this day, including a clever scene where Dwayne Johnson desperately attempts to keep an ancient temple from collapsing on everyone as his partners attempt to retrieve the artifact.

Plus, after Christopher Walken’s character spends the entire movie setting himself up as a complete scum-of-the-earth human being, the manner of his death is profoundly satisfying. 

The film currently stands at 70 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, which (rightly) shows that the movie is far from being a masterpiece, but any fans of pre-superhero action movies will find plenty to enjoy. Unfortunately for the film’s creators, it only made about $80 million worldwide off of an $85 million budget, meaning very few people would end up seeing Dwayne Johnson’s early-career performance.

Despite The Rundown‘s poor box office results, Dwayne Johnson continued to be given more starring roles. The next year he appeared in Walking Tall, which was both a critical and box office disappointment but at least managed to make back more than its production budget. In fact, box office failures were pretty much par for the course of Dwayne Johnson’s early career, with films like DoomSouthland Tales, and Gridiron Gang all returning disappointing numbers.

In fact, the only successful film that Dwayne Johnson appeared in over the course of the next three years was 2005’s Be Cool, a crime comedy with an ensemble cast including John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn, and Cedric the Entertainer. Critics widely panned the film, which has a 30 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, but it made $95 million off of a budget of somewhere between $53 and $75 million.

It wasn’t until 2007’s The Game Plan that Dwayne Johnson began regularly appearing in successful films, though these films weren’t in the expected action genre — it turned out that the former professional wrestler was a bigger draw in comedic movies. The comedic films The Game PlanGet Smart and The Tooth Fairy were all box office successes, and even the widely-panned animated film Planet 51 made about $100 million off of a $70 million budget.

In the meantime, he managed to appear in his first successful non-comedy movie since The Scorpion King: The 2009 Disney live-action sci-fi movie Race To Witch Mountain, which was made on a $50 million budget and earned back $100 million worldwide. 

With this string of successes under his belt, Dwayne Johnson eventually moved on to more high-profile films, including the Fast & Furious and Jumanji franchises. He’s now a highly sought-after actor and is set to appear in seven separate upcoming films in various stages of development.