Welcome To The Jungle


Directed by: Peter Berg
Written by:R.J. Stewart, James Vanberbilt
Starring: The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner
Released: January 1, 2004
Grade: B-

Beck (The Rock) is a man who knows how to retrieve things.  He’d rather be a chef but unfortunately he’s working as a hitman to pay off some old debts.  After being screwed over by his mob boss in another job, Beck’s decided to get out of the business.  The boss agrees and will give him $250,000 and his own restaurant if he’ll do one last job for him.

That job is to retrieve the boss’s son, Travis (Scott), who is now living in the Amazon Jungle.  His dad wants him home for reasons which aren’t exactly clear but you sense they aren’t on the best of terms.  Beck has no trouble tracking Travis down and it looks like being a very easy assignment until he encounters the leader of the isolated community.  Hatcher (Walken) is an astute American businessman who is exploiting the cheap African labour in the mines.  He pays them next to nothing and the profit is his for taking.

Hatcher ordinarily wouldn’t have much interest in a nobody like Travis but it’s Travis’s own activities that has captured his attention.  Travis has been searching for a “priceless” gold statue known as the Gato del Diablo and looks to have finally pin-pointed its location (although I’m not sure how).  Hatcher wants that statue for his own and isn’t going to let Beck take Travis without a fight.  To further complicate the situation, a native named Mariana (Dawson) has her own eye on the prize since she knows it can free the citizens of the town from the reign of Hatcher.

There weren’t as many jokes as I expected (especially from Seann William Scott) but there are plenty of well choreographed fight sequences to satisfy those thirsty for action.  I found annoyance though at how unrealistic it all looked.  I’m tired of watching people fight as if they are suspended by strings.  How else could they hang in the air for so long?  How else could they fly miles in the air when kicked and still get up with barely a scratch?  I know this is the trend with modern day action but come on, isn’t someone out there going to try something new?

Welcome To The Jungle wasn’t the box-office smash that some predicted in the States and it took just $47m at the box-office on a $85m budget.  Australian marketers must have attributed some of the poor performance to the film’s name since in America the film was released under the title The Rundown.  Such trivial detail means little when you look at some of the film’s bigger problems.  More could have been made of this.