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Walking Tall

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Walking Tall

Starring: The Rock, Johnny Knoxville
Director: Kevnin Bray
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 87 Minutes
Release Date: April 2004
Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Neal McDonough, John Beasley, Barbara Tarbuck, Kristen Wilson, Khleo Thomas, Ashley Scott, Michael Bowen, Aaron Douglas, Mark Houghton, Ryan Robbins

Review by Jerry Saravia
2 stars out of 4

"Walking Tall" is the remake of a 1973 cult hit I've never seen. This new version is so pumped-up and full of testosterone that one wishes somebody cared a little bit about developed characters and a decent story. It has a good buildup, but it never materializes into anything other than an action movie with a guy carrying a wooden block as a defense against the bad guys.

The wrestler known as the Rock (aka Duane Johnson) stars as Chris Vaughn, a Marine who returns home to work at a mill that is no longer in operation. He is offered a job at the casino, a place that brings income to the small town. He refuses (I wonder why exactly if he needs a job. Oh, I get it. He is not crazy about his high-school rival, who now runs the casino). Before you know it, there is a fight a la Steven Seagal that the Rock instigates (believe me, he does), and he is left for dead. Then he comes back after a silly montage where he mostly sits on the couch in his parents' home, tears apart the casino with his trusty wooden block, goes to trial, convinces the jury he can walk tall (thanks to the scars on the chest), and becomes sheriff with only one deputy (superbly played by "Jackass's" Johnny Knoxville). Then there is the token girlfriend (Ashley Scott) whose last scene consists of her wielding a gun wearing a red bra! The running time is 82 minutes, but we only get half of a movie before it ends rather abruptly and too cleanly.

As I said, there is a nice setup with the introduction of Chris's parents, his sister and his nephew. We see the town has hidden secrets, like young mothers buying drugs in alleyways, a XXX theatre (oh, my!), Home Depot replacing the local lumber shop, and so on. The mill is closed, which means Chris's father can no longer work there. There is only the casino that comes equipped with strippers and slot machines. And as for Chris's high-school enemy/casino owner (played by Neal McDonough), well, it seems differences are set aside except for a brief intro where we witness testosterone levels reaching maximum capacity at a football game (another one of those cliched montages set to loud music).

I am sure the original version of "Walking Tall" is better (both are based on a true story), but the Rock has potential as a reluctant action hero with a sense of humor. He has ample moments to display both, but his Chris character is hardly reluctant - he is a big righteous bully who will take no for an answer. Sounds like he should be running for office.

Copyright 2004 Jerry Saravia

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