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Total Recall: The Rundown

Back from the dead is our recap feature Total Recall.  This time we’re looking at the 2003 action movie The Rundown starring The Rock, Christopher Walken, Seann William Scott and Rosario Dawson and directed by Peter Berg.  Back in 2003, The Rock was on the precipice of becoming the next big action star after The Scorpion King but unfortunately this was pretty much the highest point of his action career before selling his soul to Disney.

The Rock stars as Beck, a “retrieval expert” aka bounty hunter who owes money for some undisclosed previous bad experience to Billy Walker, who’s a menacing loan shark/business man.  Our introduction to Beck is when he heads to a night club to confront the quaterback of Notre Dame, Jamal, about his gambling debts to Billy. It’s definitely worth noting that we get a cameo from Arnold as Beck heads into the restraunt, which many considered a passing of the torch moment when he tells Beck to “have fun”.  After dancing around the subject of the debt with Jamal and getting $1000 of the $50,000 owed, Beck says he needs Jamal’s ring as collateral.  Jamal doesn’t take this very well and throws champagne in Beck’s face.  Beck heads to the bathroom to get cleaned up and calls Billy because he doesn’t want to have to sideline the entire Notre Dame offense, who are hanging out with Jamal in the club.  Billy says to get the ring so Beck agrees and heads back to give Jamal his two options: Option A he gives Beck the ring or Option B, Beck makes him give him the ring.  Jamal, being a cocky asshole, choose B and Beck proceeds to decimate the offensive line of Notre Dame, including giving one of them a Rock Bottom.  We also get the first hint of Beck’s distaste for guns, as he takes one off one of the lineman and quickly disassembles it.  After beating down the last lineman with a record player, Jamal tries to escape but Beck throws the player and nails him in the legs.  Beck then does what he promised and takes the ring.

Outside Beck is jumped by another retrieval expert, Nigel,  who Billy sent over as insurance.  Beck is taken out by a beanbag shotgun and Nigel takes the ring.  Beck then heads over to Billy’s to confront him and demands that he finally get even on his debt.  Billy agrees to wipe out the debt if Beck does one last job, heading to South America and collecting Billy’s son, Travis(Seann William Scott).  Travis is a wannabe archaeologist who is doing some excavating in the region.   If Beck can get him back to Billy’s house the debt will be erased and Beck can finally pursue his dream of owning a restaurant.  Beck agrees and we’re off to South America.

Travis has been staying in a mining town called El Dorado and the only way Beck can get their is with crazy Scottish pilot Declan.  After clearing cows from the runway, Beck and Declan drive into El Dorado, which is, for all intents and purposes, is owned by the Hatcher Mining company led by Cornelius Bernard Hatcher.  Hatcher is played by Christopher Walken and is easily one of the highlights of the movie.  Beck witnesses the mistreatment of the workers by Hatcher’s men but focuses on the job at hand and goes to meet with Hatcher.  Beck explains what he’s doing there and we get the first of a couple great Walken rants as he emphasizes how important it is to keep your high on the ball and the truth behind gold:

“Where you see Hell, I see a spellbinding sense of purpose. I see the value of keeping your eye on the ball. When a bride slips the ring on her finger, when a businessman lays his hands on a Rolex, when a rapper gets a shiny new tooth, this is that cost, Mr. Beck, my horror for their beauty, my Hell for their little slice of Heaven. Somebody’s gotta keep his eye on the ball. That somebody is me, Mr. Beck. I am down here every day, keeping my eye on the ball. That’s just a simple fact of life. And if you’re bold enough to face that cold hard fact… you can make a lot of money.”

Hatcher agrees to let Beck take Travis in exchange for $10,000 dollars.  Beck then borrows Declan’s jeep and heads into town.  Hatcher mentioned that Travis usually hangs around the local bar, so Beck starts his search there.  He meets local barmaid Mariana (Rosario Dawson) and also, conveniently, Travis.  Beck gives Travis his usual options and Travis chooses Option C and then unsuccessfully tries to fight Beck, who takes him down in one punch.  That’s when Option C, as in Cornelius, walks in with his goons.  Hatcher explains that Travis is on the verge of finding a valuable artifact called the Gato, which is a cat statue made of pure gold.  Hatcher wants it and needs Travis to find it so he gives Beck a chance to leave and that the $10,000 is a contribution to Beck’s personal health.  Beck says he’s “feeling pretty healthy” and tries to walk Travis out but is stopped by Hatcher’s main goon, Harvey, firing a gun at his feet.  Seeing that it’s on, Beck throws Travis at some of Hatcher’s goons and dives behind some pool tables to hide from the gunshots.  When he hears their empty Beck jumps them and performs some crazy acrobatics that takes down two of the goons and he then breaks Harvey’s nose, disarms him and sticks a gun in his mouth.  Hatcher is impressed but confident when he sees the two goons on the floor recovering.  Thinking Beck can’t take them all out, Beck proves him wrong by manuevering Harvey toward them and then drop kicking him into the goons, taking all three out and causing a shelf to crash down onto them.  Hatcher still has a surprise in the form of his master of whips, Swenson.  Beck again tossed away the gun and Swenson tries to tie him up but Beck manages to catch the end of the whip.  Swenson has whips akimbo though and tries to get Beck with his second one.  Beck manages to toss a table at Swenson and then grabs Travis and escapes out the back while Swenson breaks the table in half with his whip.

Beck and Travis flee to the airfield but Travis is desperate not to see his father, and also to recover the Gato, so he surprises Beck by slamming into him and causing the jeep to fly off the road and down a cliff.  After a seemingly never ending fall, the two end up in a small lake and Travis steals Beck’s handcuff keys and flees into the jungle.  Beck quickly catches up and the two start their long trek back to the airfield. Travis tries to negotiate and convince Beck to let him go but Beck “doesn’t give breaks” and won’t hear any of it.  A few hours into the jungle, Travis spies something on the jungle floor and gets Beck to stop by saying he needs to go to the bathroom.  Beck relents but is caught in a snare while wandering around.  Travis then grabs Beck’s keys and starts taunting him, unaware that there is a second snare, which he gets caught in.  The pair tries to swing themselves to a nearby tree to attempt to get down but are stopped by some vicious monkeys, one who tries to exert his dominance on Beck by humping him near his face.  Beck and Travis go out of the monkey frying pot and into the rebel fire when the local rebels emerge from the jungle. Meanwhile, Hatcher and his men have been conducting a search of the jungle and Hatcher gives another great speech, this time about the Tooth Fairy:

“I feel like a little boy who’s lost his first tooth, put it under his pillow, waiting for the tooth-fairy to come. Only two evil burglars have crept in my window, and snatched it, before she could get here… Wait a second, do you understand the CONCEPT of the tooth-fairy? Explain it to them… Wait. She takes the god damned thing, and gives you a quarter. They’ve got my tooth. I want it back.”

Travis is confident they’ll let them go and says he’ll talk to them to convince to do just that.  However, he tells the rebels that Beck is one of Hatcher’s assassins and pushes Beck toward a fight with a bunch of the rebels, led by the small but vicious Manito (played by Ernie Reyes Jr).  Beck doesn’t want to fight but after taking a beating due to Manito’s martial arts skills and the rebels use of vines to throw him around, Beck has to try and even the odds.  The rebels raise the stakes by pulling out flaming pieces of wood, knives and hatchets but fortunately for everyone, Mariana arrives to break up the fight.  It turns out Mariana is the leader of the rebels and is also after Travis’ Gato, but she wants it to buy farming supplies and help free her people from Hatcher’s control.

Beck is still determined to take Travis back but Mariana tells him that a dozen rifles says he isn’t and things get kind of tense.  Before the arguement goes any further, Hatcher and his men jump the encampment and kill everyone expect Beck, Travis and Mariana, who flee onto the river.  Mariana still refuses to give up Travis and the Gato but Beck proposes a deal where Travis leads them to the Gato, gives it to Mariana and then Beck takes him back to America.  Travis feels he’s getting the shaft but Mariana agrees.  The trio then follows Travis through the jungle to a waterfall, which hides a cave.  After almost frying them all by igniting a cloud of methane in the cave, Travis leads Mariana and Beck to an ancient chamber where the Gato has been hidden. The Gato is guarded by a series of poles which, if the wrong ones are pulled, causes the roof to collapse.  Travis pulls one of the wrong ones in the first row and Beck narrowly manages to hold it in place to keep the roof from collapsing.  Travis then figures out that there are symbols on the floor which are like an ancient combination lock.  One of the symbols is a jaguar, which Travis figures is closest to cat so he pulls those poles.  His reasoning is correct and he manages to get to the Gato but the roof starts to collapse and the trio just barely manages to escape.

The group camps for the night and Mariana shares a fruit called konlavos with the guys.  Konlavos has the nasty property of causing muscle paralysis however and Beck and Travis are helpless to stop Mariana from taking the Gato and heading off into the jungle.  She does keep her end of the deal and tells Beck how to get to the airfield and also promises to send Travis money to help him escape his father.   The two recover the next morning and finally arrive back at the airfield.  They learn from Declan that Mariana was captured by Hatcher and that he now has the Gato.  Beck is conflicted but decides to attack the town and recover Mariana and the Gato, since she didn’t get her end of their deal.  Travis tells Beck he’ll never be able to do it alone and offers to help Beck since he would rather be dead than have Hatcher have the Gato.  Beck takes over one of Hatcher’s guard posts outside of town and offer Hatcher his customary two options, leave town or Beck will make him.  Hatcher, of course takes option B and Beck punches the camera he was communicating with Hatcher on.  Hatcher orders the town locked down and they think they have everything under control until Declan walks into town with a bagpipe and calls out Hatcher.  He then starts playing, which distracts Hatcher’s men from the sound of all the incoming bulls charging into town.  The bulls destroy many of Hatcher’s vehicles and takes out a number of his men.  They also allow Beck and Travis to sneak in undetected.

Beck engages a number of Hatcher’s men in hand to hand, tossing their guns into the street, while Travis dodges gunfire and takes out a goon in a general store.  Getting cocky, Travis wanders into the middle of the street and gets ambushed by snipers.  He loses his gun and ducks into a nearby bus.  Beck takes cover behind a wall and after hearing Travis’ call for help and seeing no other way, he finally picks up a pair of shotguns and reveals himself to be an insane marksmen.  He takes out the snipers and Travis escapes the bus before it explodes.  Beck goes on a rampage while Travis sees Harvey taking Mariana and the Gato to a truck to escape town.  He gives chase and ends up crashing his and Harvey’s trucks into a water tower, which collapses.  Mariana and Harvey are knocked out and Travis ends up with the Gato.  Beck meanwhile takes down all the lesser goons but winds up in a fight with Swenson and two of his whip handlers.  Beck is whipped from all angles but takes out the two goons with their own pistols, which are quickly whipped away by Swenson.  He and Swenson get into a fist fight, unaware that one of the snipers survived Beck’s assualt.  Hatcher meanwhile, decided to take matters into his own hands and stalks toward Beck with a Desert Eagle.  Just as the sniper is about to take Beck out, Travis shoots him, which causes the rifle to go flying.  Beck catches it and shoots the pistol out of Hatcher’s hand.  Travis then runs off and Mariana arrives to surround Hatcher with all the townspeople.  Beck offers Hatcher Option A, which Hatcher still refuses.  He rants to the town about how their nothing without him and tries to pick up the gun but is shot by Mariana and the townsfolk.  He finally agrees to Option B but only makes it a few steps before collapsing and dying.  Beck and Mariana exchange victory quips but Beck is dissappointed that their deal still isn’t fulfilled.  That’s when Travis surprisingly reappears and turns over the Gato.  Beck and Mariana are impressed but Beck still handcuffs him since he never gives breaks and they head back to the airfield with Declan while Mariana and the townspeople celebrate their victory.

Arriving back in Los Angeles, Billy and Travis have a not very nice father/son reunion where Billy reveals Travis is headed for Chicago to answer for a previous infidelity with a married woman.  Beck gets his money but tells Billy they should celebrate one last time with some konlavos.  Billy and his bodyguards are knocked out and Beck and Travis head off into the sunset.

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