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Walking Tall /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kristen Wilson, Neal McDonough, Ashley Scott, Johnny Knoxville

Directed by: Kevin Bray

Produced by: Jim Burke, Paul Schiff, Lucas Foster, Ashok Amritraj, David Hoberman
Written by:
Brian Koppelman, David Levien, David Klass, Channing Gibson
Distributor: MGM


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Movie Image
Movie Image

     When typing the header for this review, I accidentally imputed The Rundown instead of Walking Tall. This may seem like a dopey, little mistake, but it’s actually kind of fascinating. The two films have their similarities; they’re, for example, both about powerful men exploiting life in cities and heroic protagonists trying to put an end to their actions. The one asset that they most noticeably share is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in their leading roles. Both are two-bucket movies that contain undercooked potential, but still carry the entertainment value to be called worthy of renting. I was never bored in Walking Tall, but the material comes across as far too lame to be called interesting. It actually proves to be exactly what I had mistaken it for: The Rundown with Johnny Knoxville replacing Seann William Scott in the key supporting role.

     The promise Walking Tall makes to its audience is a great one, which only fools would expect it to keep. It wants to be enthralling. What it turns out to be is just as “cool” as the next teenager-targeted action-blockbuster that claims to tear up multiplex screens.

     Chris Vaughn (Rock) has just returned to his Washington-State home from a long period of duty with the United States Special Forces, to his family. He has intended to get a job at the old sawmill, but has discovered it has been closed. Soon, Chris finds out that its termination hasn’t been the only change in his hometown. The main source of income in it is now the casino, run by his high school enemy. However, after spending a night at it, and having a hot and violent encounter with the security guards, trouble ensues when the police will not help him prosecute them for wrongly beating him. Chris’ nephew (Khleo Thomas) then overdoses on Methamphetamine shortly afterwards, which was supposedly supplied by the security guards. Ignoring the cops this time, Chris serves justice by destroying much of the casino and injuring its workers with a trusty piece of wood. This action sends him to trial for destruction of property, and after being proven not guilty, he vows to run for sheriff and set the town straight.

     The Rock is likeable and no one can deny that. He proves himself to have a perfect balance of romance, humor, and charm in his presence in each performance he puts on. He can’t seem to make a good movie, though. But, I suppose that every actor makes their fair share of stinkers before they find their ground. And to be honest, I’m not sure if action movies are where he has the capability of finding the most success. He’s strong enough a performer to work on a project that is a little more toned down from his normal routine, and pull it off. But, since he has the ability to draw in teenage boys to shoot-‘em-uppers, there’s doubt he’ll try to bring some variety to the credits on his resume.

     Johnny Knoxville, who has claimed his fame doing gratuitous stunts in the abominations that are the routines of the “Jackass” crew, shows potential in a real role here, albeit a silly one. Once Chris is predictably elected Sheriff, he chooses Knoxville’s character, Ray Templeton, to be his partner. Ray has absolutely no training to be a policeman; it is miraculous he doesn’t kill himself while using a gun on “duty.” The part, really, doesn’t leave much to be desired; Knoxville does the perfect job in creating a somewhat klutzy, but loveable side-kick for our charismatic lead.

     Walking Tall has a lot to offer, but somewhere in the slow motion clips of Chris bashing the brains out of the bad guys with guns, using only a slab of wood, the whole exercise seems a little reckless. My questions about aspects of the movie are innumerable, but the one that I’m most curious about is the most simple. Will the average teenager really find this to be entertaining? Sure, Walking Tall offers many conventionally enjoyable skits, which exhibit gunplay they will adore, but what about the sequences that deal with football games and courtroom trials? I’m not complaining about them, but I’m sure more than a few fifteen-year-olds will be. And as I think about it, the majority of the target audience will probably deem this picture to be something along the lines of Walking in The Rundown’s Shadow, even though I, myself, wouldn’t use such a term in describing it. I don’t feel all that compelled to decide which flick is better, either. I’ll reserve that mind-game for the battle between the two good movies that The Rock has yet to make.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

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