Normally, Dwayne Johnson doesn’t have much in common with Boba Fett, the biggest badass in Star Wars. But back in 2003, this wrestler-turned-actor starred as a bounty hunter in the amazingly underrated buddy comedy The Rundown. If you missed out the first time, there’s still time to check out what The Rock is cooking by streaming this quirky comedy on Peacock today.
The Rundown – starring Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Christopher Walken, and Rosario Dawson – is streaming on Peacock.
We know what you’re thinking: if The Rundown is a buddy comedy movie with Dwayne Jonhson at the center of it, then just who does the man who would be Black Adam team up with? In this case, it’s Seann William Scott, a veteran actor turned would-be leading man who is still mostly remembered for playing Stiffler in the American Pie movies.
The rest of the cast is equally surprising: Arnold Schwarzenegger has an uncredited cameo, and the movie features Christopher Walken at his creepy best as well as a young Rosario Dawson many years before she began playing Ahsoka for Disney.
Dwayne Johnson and the rest of these awesome actors round out a very talented cast, but just what is The Rundown actually about? John plays an expert bounty hunter sent to retrieve a football player’s championship ring, and the incident leaves him wanting to leave the debt-collecting business altogether. Instead, he gets talked into going on one last job by Seann William Scott’s character, and it doesn’t take long before these two are caught up in treasure-hunting shenanigans in pursuit of a valuable golden artifact.
If the plot sounds paper-thin, that’s because it is, but be honest with yourself: you don’t watch Dwayne Johnson movies for their extreme subtlety, do you? Like some of the best buddy comedies in history (most especially the Rush Hour films), this movie alternates between providing killer action scenes along with some very big laughs. While Johnson has proven himself to be an expert at both action and comedy, it’s a miracle that The Rundown ended up being as good as it is.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has an uncredited cameo, and the movie features Christopher Walken at his creepy best as well as a young Rosario Dawson many years before she began playing Ahsoka for Disney.
That’s because director Peter Berg had only previously directed one film (the 1998 Christian Slater black comedy Very Bad Things) and had zero experience directing an action movie. In order to craft the kinds of fight scenes that Dwayne Johnson’s wrestling fans were expecting, Berg decided to buy the DVD The Fifty Best Fights Ever Filmed to look for inspiration.
At first, though, this DVD had the opposite effect because it made the director despair at whether he could do anything original, especially with a budget that largely went to its big names.
Fortunately, Berg had something of an epiphany when watching the excellent fight scene between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David in John Carpenter’s They Live. He was impressed by the blunt brutality of the fight scenes led by Piper who (like Dwayne Johnson) was a wrestler-turned-actor. Instead of trying to recreate more traditional action scenes, Berg focused on crafting his movie around the kinds of scenes that would inevitably make the audience wince in sympathetic pain.
It was quite the gamble for a director who was still relatively new to Hollywood, but it managed to pay off. Critics loved this Dwayne Johnson buddy comedy, and the film currently has a 70 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Those critics were blunt about the movie’s strengths and weaknesses: specifically, The Rundown isn’t the most original buddy comedy in the world, but its great action scenes and even greater chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Seann William Scott make it more than worth watching.
Did The Gamble Pay Off?
Unfortunately, Dwayne Johnson wasn’t quite the audience pull 20 years ago that he is today, and The Rundown ended up only grossing $80.9 million against its $85 million budget. That makes it a certified box office bomb and might have dashed its chances of ever getting a sequel. However, a sequel was greenlit back in 2013, and as of 2020, director Peter Berg claimed that there were still ongoing sequel plans at Universal Pictures but that Dwayne Johnson’s busy schedule was continuing to delay production.
Honestly, we doubt that we’ll see a sequel to The Rundown anytime soon, and that’s just one more reason to stream it on Peacock today. In a world where so many action comedies feel formulaic and so many digital movies look like screensavers, this 2003 film (on actual film, no less) is a throwback to the golden years of filmmaking. And if, like the director, you loved watching Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David slugging it out in They Live, we’re confident this film will have you glued to the seat the entire time.