Walking Tall (2004)

Walking Tall (2004)

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"Look at me, I'm fantastic. If you smell what The Rock is cookin'."
“Look at me, I’m fantastic. If you smell what The Rock is cookin’.”

Twitter Plot Summary: When The Rock returns from army duty, he finds his hometown beset my an evil casino. He er… becomes sheriff.

Genre: Action/Crime

Director: Kevin Bray

Key Cast: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Johnny Knoxville, Neal McDonough, Ashley Scott, Michael Bowen, Kevin Durand.

Five Point Summary:

1. The Rock looks terribly young.
2. His nephew looks like a miniature Lionel Richie. If he sings “Hello” before the end, I’ll eat my edible hat.
3. Chief Tyrol on the casino table!
4. The kid had some bad crystal meth. They’re clearly no Heisenberg.
5. Now things are about to get real. With lots of bullets.

Back in 2004 Dwayne Johnson was still known as The Rock and was yet to become the epic movie star that we know and love today. Mr Johnson plays Chris Vaughn, a former sergeant in the US Army who returns home to find his home town has changed almost beyond recognition. Adult stores line the high street, the old mill has closed, and an inverted TARDIS casino (it’s bigger on the outside) has taken up position in the town.

The Rock’s visit to the casino (ridiculously garish and run by the obviously evil Neal McDonough) doesn’t go well. His lap-dance is performed by an old friend (a lady, of course), and he discovers loaded dice on the craps table. This is of course an excuse for a bit of a punch-up and an altercation with the equally evil Kevin Durand, thus setting up the remainder of the plot. He runs for sheriff, wins, and then sets about cleaning up the town by any means necessary.

The movie doesn’t outstay its welcome, running at a lean 86 minutes. Much like the majority of The Rock’s early cinematic efforts it gets in and out of the ring, no pun intended, before outstaying its welcome. This works in its favour, maintaining a lean running pace keeps things moving and keeps you engaged with the admittedly flimsy plot. This comes at its own expense as there’s a few story beats that don’t quite work and need fleshing out a little. At the same time everybody’s intentions are clear from day one, there’s no subtext to anybody featured in this film and it’s route 1 all the way.

I'm not just that guy who did Jackass! I'm a real boy!
I’m not just that guy who did Jackass! I’m a real boy!

The biggest surprise is Johnny Knoxville who pitches in a surprisingly restrained performance. Well, restrained for him at least. It’s more naturalistic than what he did in The Last Stand at any rate. The direction from Kevin Bray is also worthy of mention, we never get so close to the action that we can’t see what’s happening, and he uses the camera in a few different ways to keep things interesting. For somebody who was still learning the ropes as far as film direction goes, he does an admirable job. Likewise The Rock shows promise in the leading role, although the improvement he’s made in the last 10 years, as far as acting ability goes, is surprising.

Oh, for those not in the know, this is a remake of the 1973 film of the same name, Once again this is another instance where I haven’t seen the original film, but I’ll probably get round to it eventually. It’s all based around the true story of Sheriff Buford Pusser who actually did clean up his home town almost single handedly. A number of details are changed for this interpretation, and it’s probably for the best. It does at least make it stand apart from the 1973 edition.

As is often the case it’s the final third of the movie where things really kick off, and it’s well worth the wait. The action’s good, it’s nicely choreographed and it’s even funny on occasion. It would have perhaps benefitted from a little more action, I know I said a streamlined film stops you getting bored but an extra 5 minutes of things blowing up or people being shot at would be an improvement. It’s no classic and is typical of the WWE Films-style output that followed The Rock during his early cinema career, but as mindless fun it’s good enough.

Favourite scene: The Rock laying the smacketh down on the casino and the goons working there.

Quote: “I grew up in this town, people used to walk tall in this town, they wouldn’t have traded the mill for a crooked casino and they wouldn’t have stood around while drugs were being sold to kids.”

Silly Moment:  Chopping up Kevin Durand’s car, knowing full well that he’s not going to talk.

Score: 2.5/5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X67H5J9ZMds

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