Bringing an action film in under 85 minutes, including the closing credits, is
actually a pretty good idea. Give the audience some fast fun and get them out
of the theater before they start to get bored.
WALKING TALL, a remake of the 1973 film starring Joe Don Baker, which itself
was based on a true story, uses just such a quick approach. The problem with
the remake, however, is that it begins with a long, stupefyingly tedious first
act that runs over half an hour before anything whatsoever happens other than a
bunch of guys chewing the fat, drinking beer and playing football on a lazy
Sunday afternoon. The preposterous middle section is followed by a
satisfyingly violent, revenge-themed ending act that gives the probably
predominately male audience the testosterone kick that they came for.
The star of the movie is that actor known affectionately and aptly as The Rock.
After a wonderfully likeable performance in THE RUNDOWN, in which he seemed to
be passed the action hero crown from Arnold, The Rock is an excellent casting
choice for a remake like WALKING TALL. Indeed, when the script finally lets
him show what he can do in the movie's brutal finale, The Rock earns his star
salary. Most of the movie, however, completely wastes his talents.
The story has Chris Vaughn (The Rock) returning to his hometown after eight
years in the Special Forces. Chris finds that the town's mill has closed. The
town's revenue is now derived from a casino (The Wild Cherry) that also serves
as a soft porn palace and hard drug emporium. His nemesis from high school,
Jay Hamilton, Jr. (Neal McDonough), is the owner of The Wild Cherry. Jay also
owns the sheriff and everything else in town. After Chris sees a casino
employee cheat one of his friends, Chris ends up in a big brawl, after which he
is left for dead on the highway.
Although all hell breaks loose in the last twenty minutes, the movie spends
most of its time in Dullsville. It does provide some opportunities to laugh at
it in a way-over-the-top trial that occurs briefly in the middle. If you do
go, show up at least a half an hour late. You won't miss anything.
WALKING TALL runs 1:25. It is incorrectly rated PG-13 for "sequences of
intense violence, sexual content, drug material and language." This is a very
violent film, which should have been rated R. It would be acceptable for most
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes