Dwayne Johnson, better known to the world at large as wrestling champ and superstar 'The Rock' achieves a certain something that has been eluding him since his debut in 'The Mummy Returns'; a formidable screen presence where the charm that has worked for him in the arena is able to display itself as well on the screen. Performing his usual physical dives, aerial plunges and other mammoth exhibitions of might, he manages to make a mark as a true action hero taking the cue, literally, from the action heroes of yesteryears.
The Rock plays Beck, who works for a wealthy client doing heavy duty work for him. Having served him for as long as he would have liked to, he finally expresses his decision to leave and open his own restaurant, at which point he is granted the leave on condition that he perform one last job. This involves venturing into the jungles of Brazil and retrieving the missing son of his employer, Travis (Sean William Scott, desperate to break away from his 'American Pie' roles) who is a treasure hunter of sorts in search of a lost artifact of great value.
Once in the town of El Dorado, Beck meets the indigenous Mariana (Rosario Dawson, sporting an awfully fake South American accent), local boss and bully Hatcher (the always wonderful, wide eyed Christopher Walken) and eventually Travis himself, unwilling to leave. To exit town Beck has to work with local rebels, lead by Mariana, to break free of Hatcher's clutches and his nefarious plans of dominating and ill treating the locals for his purposes. Not much of plot really, and that isn't what anyone would probably be looking for anyway, though it would have helped bring a sense of purpose.
Director Peter Berg manages to shoots some terrific, smart and refreshing action sequences using everything from whips to speeding bulls. Further suppressing the usage of guns, until the very end, is Beck's insistence on not using any weapons, a sort of throwback to the noble action hero who prefers not to hurt others or cause undue fatally, knowing well the kind of destruction he may be capable of wrecking if forced into a tight corner. He uses physical prowess to accomplish his needs with the ability to turn into a one man army. During fight sequences the Rock gets thrown from impossible heights, hit with numerous objects and pitched around like a rag doll, all comfortable and familiar surroundings for him no doubt, hence requiring little work, though he convinces in the loosely written role he is given.
Scott is himself (or the self we are used to seeing him as on screen), mostly because there is no other role he can play this well. Being naturally impish makes his comic rants seem effortless, and sporadically funny even if he does nothing more than mimics others around him. There is scant opportunity to toss in forced romance in certain places, but this is very wisely left out. Walken remain an expert at playing the kind of maniac who is so convinced of his ways that he finds it annoying how others don't see the obviousness of it, making the audience want to root for him too.
In the end, despite its faults, the movie works as an action adventure and despite his obvious limitations, the Rock is probably the next big action hero. Watch out for this guy, he probably has bigger things lines up his way. - Faizan Rashid