Corporate Line: In Walking Tall, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays Chris Vaughn, a retired soldier who returns to his hometown to make a new life for himself, only to discover his wealthy high school rival, Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough), has closed the once-prosperous lumber mill and turned the town’s resources towards his own criminal gains. The place Chris grew up is now overrun with crime, drugs, and violence. Enlisting the help of his old pal Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville), Chris gets elected sheriff and vows to shut down Hamilton’s operations. His actions endanger his family and threaten his own life, but Chris refuses to back down until his hometown once again feels like home.
The Good: It’s the Rock playing the Rock. Rock has become the Mr. Clean of crime. Whether he starts off as a bad guy, good guy, or someone who just doesn’t care either way Rock’s heart always grows two sizes that day and he sweeps the town clean of dirt.
Is there anything more exciting than seeing the Rock ‘walking tall’ and busting a few heads? It makes us all feel like we can go right out of the theater and take the bad guys by the seat of their pants and throw them half a mile. In this situation the Rock is going after the corruption that has ruined his quaint little childhood home.
The Bad: The bad guy Neal McDonough is lame. Sure he acts a lot like a jerk, yet is he really a scary guy? Hardly. Especially when standing face up with the Rock. His boys aren’t much to be afraid of either. It’s not like his last enemy Christopher Walken who you believed might be the scariest guy on the earth. Sure it’s based on a true story—but give me a bad guy to at least hang with the superstar good guy.
Walking Tall is extremely short. The runtime is under an hour-and-a-half so its not just the pace that seems to fly by.
Frankly: I’ve never seen the original, maybe someday I’ll get around to it—however the Rock pulls off another movie with class and a style that sets him apart from the rest of the wanna-be action stars. The Rock is the only air apparent to Schwarzenegger, who couldn’t have made this movie work, and Stallone, who made a similar movie called First Blood work in its own insane way. Mr. Clean, u-hum, the Rock is the one to get the dirty jobs done!
+ Charlie Craine