(In theaters, September 2003) Well, that’s a surprise. After a less-than-fantastic first starring role in The Scorpion King, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson strikes back as a cook/henchman in The Rundown, and is lucky enough to find himself in one of the best adventure buddy-comedies of the year. That’s not meant as overwhelming praise, but then again this is the type of film that works well because it’s so surprising. The fun begins in the very first scene, as the protagonist slaps down a football team in order to accomplish his mission (“Can’t we do it some other day? I thought they had good chances this year.” he first warns) While the quick-cut action direction isn’t particularly endearing, it quickly sets up the fun tone of the film and later cedes way to some amazing computer-enhanced shots in which characters get pummelled from multiple angles. Those latter fight scenes (The many-on-one jungle brawl, mostly) are filmed in a manner reminiscent of a hyped-up Jackie Chan film and represent another of the film’s happy surprises. Seann William Scott isn’t particularly surprising, but he does much better here than in the lukewarm Bulletproof Monk. The luscious Rosario Dawson also has a good turn as a bartender/rebel leader, but no one -of course- comes close to the genius of Christopher Walken, who transforms a regular antagonist role into something very special. (“There’s been a… complication, a… twist in the plot…”) While The Rundown has its share of silly, stupid or insipid moments (I’ll pass on the monkey business, except to say that the use of monkeys is once again confirmed to be an act of creative desperation), it succeeds more often than it fails and the overall result is a lot of fun.