After eight years serving the U.S. Army Special Forces, Sergeant Chris Vaughn returns to his hometown seeking for a job in the local mill. He is informed by Sheriff Stan Watkins that the mill was closed three years ago and now the Wild Cherry Casino, owned by his former high school friend Jay Hamilton, is the major source of jobs and income to the town. Chris goes home, and meets his best-friend Ray Templeton, who organized a football game with their friends. After the game, Jay invites Chris and his friends to spend the night in his casino on him, but when Chris finds that the casino crabs dealer is cheating with loaded dice, he fights against the security men and is almost killed by them. When his nephew Pete overdosed on crystal meth sold by the security men at the casino, Chris realizes that the town is dominated by the mobsters and the corrupt sheriff and with a huge piece of wood, he breaks the casino and the criminals. He is prosecuted and in the trial, he promises to the jury ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Walking Tall is The Rock's fourth foray into major motion pictures, and different turn then his previous three trips to the box office. What separates 'Walking Tall' from his other films to date is The Rock is left alone as the sole 'draw' of this film, without a major franchise (The Mummy Returns, Scorpion King) or other star power (The Rundown with Sean William Scott and Christopher Walken) to draw an audience. Is it a success?
Yes and no.
Overall, it's an enjoyable action film with good a plot, decent characters and acting, and some hard-hitting action sequences. It centres on Chris Vaughn (The Rock), returning home from the Army after many years of service, only to realize it isn't the place he left all those years ago. A former friend and casino owner Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough) controls much of the town through gambling, prostitution, and drugs. After Vaughn is attacked in the Casino, and his nephew overdoses on drugs, he teams with his best friend Ray (Johnny Knoxville), becomes the town's Sheriff, and goes about trying to set things right.
It is The Rock's movie first and foremost, and his natural charisma and personality are what carries the movie at its core. The Rock plays Chris Vaughn and delivers as well as can be expected, after four films he is definitely looking more in his element. The Rock is supported wonderfully by the surprising Johnny Knoxville (of Jackass fame) who turns in a wonderfully solid and funny performance as Ray, Vaughn's best friend and later deputy. Neal McDonough plays the main villain of the picture, and although he doesn't have much to work with outside of being just "the bad guy", he handles it well, and is matched well against The Rock.
This movie is decidedly 'heavier' then Rock's previous outings, dealing with more significant topics like prostitution and drugs, which gives it a more serious edge. It certainly doesn't feel like a 'fun' film, like all of The Rock's other movies to date.
The action scenes are solid, and are a firm connection to the plot. Unlike Rock's previous films, the fight scenes are more traditional 'realistic' looking fights. That being said, for action junkies there's definitely something here for you, with The Rock getting into it with his hands, and guns, there's definitely something for everyone.
That said, I felt Walking Tall was a little bit thin. First and foremost, it ran at a meagre 85 minutes, which was simply not enough time for a movie like this. Although all the necessary plot points were properly established, I felt the movie needed another 20 minutes or so to `breath'. Everything progresses logically, just much too quickly to build the level of suspense and anticipation I think the movie was capable of. As a result, leading up to the climax of the movie, it almost feels like a race to the finish. More character development and background was definitely warranted, as well as greater explanation on certain plot points.
I felt that this was a movie that a studio may have cut for time reasons or ratings (it also felt like it was being squeezed into PG-13), and if that were the case, I'd love to see the full version. I feel it would be a much more complete film, with a better build up, therefore making the payoff mean all that much more.
Overall, I enjoyed Walking Tall, and would recommend it to anyone despite its faults. The Rock is being championed as the next big action star, and I have to agree, he has the charisma, looks and moves to make it far, with Walking Tall being a major 'step' in getting him there.
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