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April 2004

By Wilson Morales

Walking Tall
Distributor: MGM
Director: Kevin Bray
Producers: Jim Burke, Lucas Foster, Paul Schiff, Ashok Amritraj, & David Hoberman
Screenwriters: David Klass, Channing Gibson, David Levien, & Brian Koperman
Cinematographer: Glen MacPherson
Composer: Graeme Revell
Cast: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Neal McDonough, Johnny Knoxville, Kristen Wilson, Ashley Scott & Khleo Thomas


Walking Tall is the most simplistic action film so far this year. The screenplay, which is adapted from a previous screenplay, is loosely based on a true story. The film is a remake of a 1973 film of the same name, but rather than go through a number of plot lines, the filmmakers decided to make the story simple and with an emerging actor like The Rock, the film works. Just when you thought the one-man action genre films died with Stallone and Arnold, The Rock proves that he can bring it back with some intelligence and finesse.

Chris Vaughn (The Rock) is returning home to his family after spending years in the armed forces defending his country. As he walks through town, he notices many changes have occurred. Adult entertainment has taken over the town and the kids in the streets are more troublesome than he could ever remember. The steel mill, which was the town's moneymaker, is now closed. When he sees his old friend (Johnny Knoxville), he's suddenly to hear of his checkered past. When his high school rival and the richest kid, now man in town, Jay stops by to ask Chris to stop his casino, Chris comes along with his old boys. That's where the fun starts in the film as Chris discover the casino workers are scamming the customers and Chris makes a play to stop the madness. Overpowered and outnumbered, Chris is given a brutal beating that many men would never recover from or let alone live to tell. When his family is put to danger, Chris decides to make some changes on his own. Using a 4 by 4 as his choice of weapon, Chris definitely makes some noise. His growing popularity earns his the mayor's title, and Chris elects to do unto others what was done to him, but finds that cleaning up the town will require more help, and he doesn't have much to begin with.

At less than 90 minutes, the film gives you enough to be entertained. It may not have the substance of what you normally look for in a film but the plot lines are straight forward. Man comes home, doesn't like what he sees, elects to make changes, but there are obstacles are in the way. That's it, in a nutshell. Coming off "All About the Benjamins", director Bray certainly must have had easier in making this film. The Rock is the focal point of the story, and he makes the most of his scenes. In due time, he will be given much more to do than use physical force as his selling point. McDonough doesn't do much but play the cliché villain in the film. It's always interesting to see that villain in the film can be as strong as The Rock, or Arnold S., and a few others when it comes down to fighting. What's interesting about the film is that The Rock's character comes from a mixed family yet race plays no factor in the film. It may have taken away from the simple point of the story. All in all, this is vigilante film like the original. It's a throwback to Death Wish, Rambo, and all those one-man can do everything films. The Rock may not be in a class by himself, but his fighting skills certainly put him ahead of number of them.