Walking Tall

The real name of the inspiration behind Walking Tall was Buford Pusser. Pusser was so disgusted at what happened in his rural Tennessee town that he took his trusty block of wood and started cleaning house. There is something primal about a man wielding a piece of wood used as a deadly weapon. The first film was way back in 1973, and inspired sequels, a remake, and a television series. The new version of Walking Tall takes place in the Northwest, and the name changes from Buford Pusser to Chris Vaughn. Basically, all of the life and distinctiveness of the original was focus-grouped out of the film to appeal to the broadest demographic. Anyways, would star The Rock (The Rundown, The Scorpion King) really stand to be a character named Buford Pusser?

Vaughn is a Special Forces soldier who returns to his rustic town hoping to get a job at the lumber mill. Upon his return, he finds that the lumber mill is long gone, replaced by a gaudy casino. Worse, there are adult bookstores on the streets, and the kids buy drugs from local dealers. Even worse, the owner of the casino, Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough, Timeline, Minority Report) is an old high school rival that even dated his girlfriend Deni (Ashley Scott, S.W.A.T., A.I.). And worst of all, he discovers that Deni is working at the casino. Oh no! So what is Vaughn to do but go on a mission to clean up the town. Hamilton essentially owns the town, so the police are under his thumb. Vaughn's initial attempts to make a difference go unheeded, so he runs for Sheriff, wins the position, and butt-kicks his way from there.

There isn't much substance to Walking Tall, yet David Klass (Kiss the Girls), Channing Gibson (Cradle 2 the Grave, Lethal Weapon 4), and David Levien and Brian Koppelman (Runaway Jury, Knockaround Guys), yes, four writers, working off a real story, still manage to come up with a bland action/revenge movie. The Rock is an imposing character, and looks fierce with his weapon, but there is not much personality behind his character. Johnny Knoxville (Jackass: The Movie, Men in Black II) provides the light comic relief as Vaughn's friend Ray Templeton, reluctant hero. Scott fares worse. She is hot, so that means she gets to run around wearing a bright red bra.

Walking Tall is not that enjoyable because all the life was sucked out of the story. This is especially true for the Vaughn character. The fact that he was in Special Forces basically explains why he is so strong. Vaughn is quiet, and more likely to glare at others than to speak. This is a problem, since the Rock has shown that he is a very charismatic person. Why have him in the lead and ignore his talents? The movie does move quickly, thanks to director Kevn Bray (All About the Benjamins). After a brief, calm introduction, the action starts and rarely stops. This keeps audiences distracted from the fact that there is no character development, and the plot is pretty thin.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 27 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence, sexual content, drug material, and language.

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