Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger is battling gay rights campaigners as Governor of California rather than fighting the world’s leading terrorists, cyborgs from the future or aliens from hell, one man has arrived to take his mighty place as Hollywood’s foremost action hero. His name is The Rock.
Beck (The Rock) is a ‘retrieval expert’ who is paid to do what he is told. Buying his way out of his current occupation and into his dream job of owning a restaurant, Beck is told to retrieve one more thing – Travis (Sean William Scott), his bosses’ son, who has gone AWOL in South America.
Sent to a remote jungle in Brazil, Beck is targeted by Hatcher (Christopher Walken), the local tyrant who is in control of everyone and everyting in the vicinity including the reason why Beck is there. Of course that’s no concern to Beck because there are only two options in his line of work – either what he wants goes to him or he- rather violently- goes for what he wants. Travis wrongly chooses the latter.
The interplay between Beck and Travis is surprisingly amusing, being devoid of the cheesy sentimentality that usually comes with unlikely alliances or comedic cat and mouse chases. Instead, there are ample doses of humour that is actually funny. Walken has little to say, and when he does speak he should have kept quiet (“That’s a lot of cows!” for example). Thankfully, he does not take up too much scene space.
What is lacking in the film are two main elements which would have made it closer to an American version of James Bond. The first missing ingredient is a memorable villain, as Walken simply isn’t interesting enough to be effective. The second is romance – although there is a sexy leading lady, she isn’t used as a romantic link to the leading man, but rather as a rebel leader against Hatcher’s regime.
Without romance or intriguing villains the film is longer than it needs to be, and indeed at 104 minutes it seems to drag toward the end. The over the top action sequences and cardboard characters become tiresome and tedious. Although by no means is this a classic action film on the lines of Die Hard, it is good fun – just don’t forget to switch your brain off before it starts.