WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Beck, (The Rock) works in the urban jungle of Los Angeles, retreiving anything for anybody
- for money. But he has had enough, and wants open a restaurant. His final job is to
retrieve a double dealer’s son, Travis (Seann William Scott), from a lingering
adventure in Brazil. Once on the ground in the tropical jungles of South America, Beck
discovers that not only is Travis quite a handful, but there are others to contend with,
including Mariana (Rosario Dawson), a no-nonsense beauty who holds answers to some
mysteries with plans of her own, and the obsessive, avaricious Hatcher (Christopher
Walken), an unhinged despot who has turned the jungle into his own fortune-making,
gold-mining empire. There an invaluable artefacts to consider and the aggressive locals.
Review by Louise Keller:
A rip-roaring action comedy set deep in the exotic Brazilian jungle, Welcome to The Jungle
combines the muscle power of The Rock with the comic charm of Seann William Scott.
‘Have fun,’ Arnold Schwarzenegger says to The Rock, in a one-line cameo at the
beginning of the film. And fun is exactly what we have, in this rollicking 104 minutes of
quips and acrobatic fighting, as Beck does what he does best, retrieving hard-to get goods
for his boss.
Life is pretty simple for Beck; he lives in a two-choice world. Things are either done
Beck’s way, or Beck’s way with violence. There is no option C. Peter Berg has
brought a great sense of adventure to this film (it’s a bit like George of the Jungle
meets Indiana Jones), and the Hawaiian locations (doubling as the Amazon rainforests) are
spectacular, with stunning aerial shots over forests, precipices and waterfalls. With
Johnny Cash’s ‘Don’t Take Your Guns to Town’ ringing in our ears, Beck
sets out on his last mission in a pithy two seater plane that looks as though it may not
last the distance.
The adventure has begun; there’s a splendid turn from Christopher Walken as a
gold-hungry Panama-hatted capitalist, and the athletic, sultry Rosario Dawson is lovely as
the enigmatic Mariana, who sets up the story’s moral code. We understand immediately
why Beck is good at his job. With his 6’4” frame of muscle, he knows the drill
and in every case, his quarry runs, fights, negotiates, begs. And he doesn’t work
with guns. Landing in the middle of a dirt strip in remote Brazil, scattering a herd of
cattle, he is quick to find who he is looking for. But soon, Beck and Travis are swinging
by their ankles in a jungle trap, being aped by expressive monkeys on heat
(‘establish dominance!’), and chased by a hoard of hoodlums with guns. R.J.
Stewart has written a terrific screenplay and manages to inventively marry innovation with
panache and witty lines throughout.
Humour is intertwined with action in some awesome fighting stunts, in which Andy Cheng
(who also worked with The Rock on The Scorpion King) marries acrobatics of the Hong-Kong
influenced fighting style tailored for the Brazilian jungle. There are some funny moments
when Beck and Travis eat a local, hallucinogenic fruit, and subsequently find themselves
paralysed. Watching these two ultra-fit men lying on the ground helpless, unable to move
or mouth their words properly brings some laughs, and the gag is repeated to great effect
later on. The final showdown comes with the incongruous melee of nerve, a kilted Scotsman
playing bagpipes, a charging herd of cattle and a major explosion of muscle power. The
resolution satisfies in every way – and there’s a moral. It’s all about
honour and keeping your word. So if you’re looking for an energetic hit of
good-natured escapism, head for the jungle.
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WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (M)
CAST: The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, Ewen Bremner, Jon Gries, William Lucking, Ernie Reyes Jr, Stuart F. Wilson
PRODUCER: Marc Abraham, Karen Glasser, Kevin Misher
DIRECTOR: Peter Berg
SCRIPT: R.J. Stewart
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tobias A. Schliessler
EDITOR: Richard Pearson
MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tom Duffield
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 1, 2004
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.