Walking Tall

"OK"

Walking Tall Review


The all-American butt-kicking charisma of former wrestler and action-hero heir-apparent The Rock seems to have a miraculous, popcorn-pleasure effect on otherwise lame movies.

"The Scorpion King" would have been straight-to-video fare without his capricious, self-aware screen presence and "The Rundown" was bargain-basement Steven Seagal fodder that this guy's muscular smile helped lift to the level of a gratifying, preposterous-fracas matinee fodder.

Any fan of The Rock (the actor or the wrestler) will find similar lowbrow satisfaction in his latest B-movie -- a remake of the vigilante-justice flick "Walking Tall."

Based on the shot-eight-times, stabbed-eight-times legend of Tennessee sheriff Buford H. Pusser, who walloped the butts of a ruthless hillbilly gang with a 2x4 he carried around, this update takes even more liberties with the "true story" than the 1973 original did -- starting with turning the hero into Chris Vaughn, a half-Samoan Gulf War veteran. Vaughn (The Rock) returns to his Washington-state hometown to find the mill closed, the streets plagued with druggies and porn shops, and the people's livelihood dependent on a crooked casino run by an old friend named Jay (Neal McDonough) who has become a rich rat.

Offered the VIP treatment at the sprawling joint's tables his first weekend back, Vaughn gets into a brawl with security guards when he catches a craps dealer with loaded dice. Next thing he knows, he's in the basement getting cut up by henchmen, who leave him for dead on a nearby road -- and after he recovers, there's hell to be paid.

Carrying what looks like a railroad tie from the old mill as a weapon, Vaughn declares war and begins administering larger-than-life retribution, with only a short pause in the action when the casino presses charges. Acquitted by a jury of fed-up townspeople, Vaughn is soon elected sheriff (ousting Jay's corrupt lackey) and sets out to finish what he started. But Jay, his thugs and the shady ex-sheriff aren't going to go down without a fight -- several huge gunfights, in fact.

Director Kevin Bray ("All About the Benjamins") makes some savvy cinematic choices -- lighting under-exposures, overhead tracking shots, unexpected silences on the soundtrack -- that make "Walking Tall" snap and crackle with more creativity than anyone would expect of a movie with such base appeal. Continuing to grow as an actor (surprisingly enough), even in a flick as simplistic as this one, The Rock suppresses his cheekiness and gives his character a humble, genuine Everyman appeal. And between the two of them, this picture has just enough going for it to balance out the elements that don't work so well, like over-edited fight scenes with too many action-blurred close-ups that are hard to make heads or tails of until they're all over and the losers are groaning on the ground.

Of course, the film has more fundamental problems -- like the fact that if you stop to think about it for two seconds, this guy's law-flaunting version of justice is no more ethical than the version his crooked predecessor practiced. It just favors the other side of the equation.

The final showdown is also an anti-climactic let-down -- not because it's over the top, but because it's so rudimentary and unevenly matched that it should be over in 10 seconds, not five minutes.

But here's what this review boils down to: As with his more unabashedly fun-loving previous films, "Walking Tall" works only because The Rock can carry it on his absurdly broad shoulders. Whether or not that's good enough to spend money on is up to you.



Walking Tall

Facts and Figures

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Friday 2nd April 2004

Box Office USA: $45.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $46.1M

Budget: $56M

Distributed by: MGM

Production compaines: Hyde Park Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Mandeville Films, Burke/Samples/Foster Productions, WWE Studios, Cub Eight Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 100

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Chris Vaughn, as Ray Templeton, as Jay Hamilton, as Michelle Vaughn, as Exotic Beauty, as Sheriff Stan Watkins, as Deni, as Chris Vaughn Sr., as Connie Vaughn, as Michelle Vaughn, as Pete Vaughn, as Booth

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.