|Walking Tall (2004)
Starring: The Rock, Johnny Knoxville, Neal McDonough, Ashley Scott
Director: Kevin Bray
In The Rock’s newest film, “Walking Tall,” Hollywood’s latest and greatest action hero manages to kick plenty of ass, save the day and get the girl, all in 74 minutes. Now that’s impressive. With amazing action sequences and a simple story that doesn’t bog itself down with unnecessary character development, “Walking Tall” is a clear winner.
Chris Vaughn (The Rock) has just arrived back home from an eight-year service as a Special Forces sergeant and is just looking for some quiet rest and a job at the town’s old mill. The problem is, the mill was shut down after his high school rival Jay Hamilton, Jr. (Neal McDonough) inherited it, choosing instead to build a corrupt casino to drive the town’s revenue.
Upon learning that his nephew Pete (Khelo Thomas) nearly died after picking up some crystal meth from one Hamilton’s casino goons, Chris enlists the help of his long-time buddy Ray (Johnny Knoxville) in a battle against the casino, intent on making several changes of their own. This doesn’t sit well with Hamilton, of course, and the two rivals butt heads in a back-and-forth struggle that creates a kind of war this small, Washington town’s never seen.
“Walking Tall” is good at what it does, putting today’s premier action star in a role that utilizes both his charismatic energy and his fighting skills. The result is a believable character capable of handling the small town’s burdensome problems, with the help of his huge, cedar 4x4. While it would have been interesting to see a few of the film’s relationships develop, most notably the one between Chris and his high school sweetheart Deni (Ashley Scott), the blunt purpose and fast-paced movement that work so well for “Walking Tall” would have been distracted. Keeping things simple was the right choice here.
With every film, The Rock gets more and more respect for his improved acting skills and the charming energy that other action stars like Vin Diesel and Arnold Schwarzenegger lack. If you’re looking for that early summer popcorn flick to fulfill your sweet tooth, go ahead and enjoy. “Walking Tall” is your best bet for unadulterated, guilty pleasure.