and David Levien & Brian Koppelman
Directed by Kevin Bray
Running Time: 1:26
as Chris Vaughn
Walking Tall was a very, very short movie that left me wanting more of a story. It all happened much too quickly.
Chris Vaughn returns home after 8 years in the military. The old mill is closed down and the town is now beholden to a casino opened up by Jay Hamilton, Jr. Hamilton is also selling drugs from the casino, and when Vaughn's nephew almost overdoses on crystal meth, he decides to take the law into his own hands. Walking loudly and carrying a big stick, Vaughn proceeds to beat the hell out of everyone that gets in his way, and managed to become sheriff so everything is nice and legal. Then suddenly, the movie is over.
72 minutes. That's how long Walking Tall actually was. Don't be fooled by that 1:26 running time I wrote above. This is going to sound weird, but 99% of the time when you see the running time listed, I've used my stop watch to time the movie. Just a quirk I have. I time a movie from the opening when the company logos appear, to the end of the closing credits. So that's where the 86 minute running time comes from. In reality, this movie ran 72 minutes; from the start of the movie to the time the end credits started. That's not even feature length! The closing credits ran 14 minutes! Next time you're at the movies, check out how long closing credits normally run. It was almost ridiculous how long they were. Usually the credits are small and run one after the other with no spaces, so maybe 20-25 people are listed at once. Not here. 3 people per screen was about it. Basically what I'm saying is, it's kind of a rip-off. They can claim they made an 86 minute film, but in actuality, they made a 72 minute film and that annoys me.
OK, that rant being over, let me say that I am a wrestling fan, and a fan of The Rock, so I'll give his movies the benefit of the doubt. 72 minutes, c'mon. Sorry. Anyway, his performance was pretty standard. Nothing that makes him look like a great actor, but nothing that makes him seem like a bad one. He comes in, throws off a few lines, and beats the crap out of people. He does have a great screen presence, which helps in these kinds of films, because you know just by looking at him, he can intimidate people. That's a good quality to have in an action star. Arnold had it, Stallone had it. I'm trying to think of a current action star that has a larger-than-life presence but I'm coming up with nothing. Most action stars today seem to be regular people with some extra abilities like being a weapons specialist or a martial arts specialist. The Rock just looks like he could kick anyone's ass.
The story, based on a true story as well as a movie from the 70s seemed out of place in the 2000s. I mean, at its heart, the story is OK; man comes home and wants to clean up his town. But seriously, the courtroom scene was a mess, and if the local sheriff is corrupt, why not call the state police? Or the F.B.I.? Selling drugs out of a casino on Native American land has to be a federal offense. Instead this one guy takes a piece of wood (I'm surprised he never named the stick) and beats people up and gets away with it? And if the people in the town disliked the casino owner so much, why did they keep spending their money there? Or keep buying drugs? There is a moral dilemma that takes place. Just because he feels he is right, should Vaughn be allowed to do whatever he pleases? How is he any different than the last sheriff? He bends and breaks the law according to what he believes in. 30 years ago that notion might have played better on the big screen, but today all I could think about was how he was just as corrupt as the previous sheriff.
For such a short, short, short movie, they could have added a lot of stuff. What happened to the election? In one moment he says he's going to run for sheriff, and then he is the sheriff. The whole movie was like that; it moved way too quickly. Within a day of coming home after 8 years, this guy is beaten up and left for dead, and two minutes later an undisclosed amount of time has gone by and he's back up and running. And if memory serves, and I could be mistaken, when he's recovering and doing sit-ups, I didn't notice any scarring on his chest, yet when he's in the courtroom, he's covered in scars.
The supporting cast was decent enough. It was nice to see Johnny Knoxville not making a total jackass of himself. I actually felt like his role could have been expanded since he was the humorous center of the film. Everyone else was sort of on the sidelines to make way for The Rock. Not that anyone really had a back story, they were just there. His love interest for instance, played by Ashley Scott. There was a story there, but we never heard it. After 8 years she just fell back into bed with him. Must be nice to be The Rock. 72 minutes, I mean, c'mon!
On the positive side, the action sequences were decent. Lots of fighting and gunplay and uses of a big wooden stick. The Rock is certainly in his element when it comes to fighting, and it shows up on screen. Having spent the last few years perfecting the act of the fake punch and reaction, he is one of the better on-screen fighters you're going to see.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I was disappointed with Walking Tall. Living in NYC and having to pay now over $10 to see a movie, I was hoping for something a bit longer than an episode of American Idol. Because of the short running time, the movie felt very hurried and the story lines weren't played out as well as they could have been. The action sequences were good, but overall it was a let down.
The Scorpion King
(Widescreen Collector's Edition)
The Mummy Returns
(Widescreen Collector's Edition)
Walking Tall Trilogy Boxed Set
© 2004 Wolfpack Productions