Walking Tall

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/06/2004

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 85 minutes

Straightforward, cartoonish action flick that lacks the humour of The Rock's previous movies and bears very little resemblance to the 1973 movie it's based on.

Walking Tall is very loosely based on both the true story of Sheriff Buford Pusser and a 1973 movie starring Joe Don Baker. However, whereas the original movie at least kept the real-life character?s name, this one renames him Chris Vaughn, probably because The Suits decided that The Rock's target audience wouldn't be happy with him having a name like Buford, let alone Pusser.

As it is, they probably should have just renamed the film and dropped all pretence of the original film because the end result is an average action thriller that lacks the humour of either The Scorpion King or Welcome to the Jungle.

Veteran Cleans Up Town

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson plays Chris Vaughn, a war hero who returns to his small Southern town. On arrival he discovers that the local mill has been closed and local businessman Jay Hamilton Jnr (Neal McDonough) has opened a casino and seems to have the town's law-makers in his pocket.

When Vaughn discovers that Hamilton is also selling drugs to kids he picks up a piece of wood (the essence of the original story), trashes the casino and promptly gets a) viciously beaten up and b) thrown in jail. However, at his trial he makes an impassioned plea and ends up getting elected Sheriff, though not in the same scene, obviously.

Essentially, then, this is a 'cleaning up the town' revenge thriller. The action scenes are largely unremarkable, although there's an amusing moment where The Rock finds himself under attack in the jailhouse but still finds time for some Hot Lovin'.

Good Work from Knoxville

Compensation for the lack of humour in the script comes in the form of Johnny Jackass Knoxville's performance as Vaughn's best friend (and initially reluctant deputy) Ray Templeton. Knoxville is an extremely likeable actor and given that he's playing the usually Marked For Death best friend role, there's a certain amount of tension involved in just hoping he makes it to the final reel. Also, McDonough makes a decent villain with his cold blue eyes and impressive sneering ability.

As for The Rock, he's not called upon to do much in the way of acting, but he's an equally likeable actor and retains our sympathy despite occasionally being just as violent as the bad guys. It's probably fair to say, however, that Walking Tall won't win him as many fans as his previous films did.

In short, Walking Tall is an undemanding action thriller that's low on laughs and heavy on bone-crunching violence. As such, it's basically switch-off-your-brain, forgettable Friday night fodder, but it's watchable enough if you like that sort of thing and worth seeing for Knoxville's performance.

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Walking Tall
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Content updated: 29/02/2020 15:57

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