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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.76%
Worth A Look: 18.92%
Pretty Bad: 13.51%
Total Crap: 17.57%

6 reviews, 38 user ratings

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Walking Tall (2004)
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by Stephen Groenewegen

"Remaking The Rock"
3 stars

Hollywood eats its own young. You only have to track the number of remakes released each year. We’ve just had new versions of Dawn of the Dead (1978) and The Stepford Wives (1975) - makeovers of House of Wax (1953), The Ladykillers (1955), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Flight of the Phoenix (1965) and Alfie (1966) are soon to hit Australia. So if you’re thinking, “hey, I’ve seen this before” while watching a new movie, you could be right.

Now it’s the turn of Walking Tall, a sleeper hit from 1973 about real-life Tennessee Sheriff Buford Pusser (Joe Don Baker). The 2004 film is dedicated to the Sheriff’s memory, but an opening title - “inspired by a true story” - signals that it’s no longer his story we’re seeing.

After eight years in the US Special Forces, Chris Vaughn (The Rock) returns home to present day Ferguson, in Washington’s Cascade Mountains. He expects to find work at the local lumberyard, but it’s closed for business. His family explains that local entrepreneur Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough) has prospered since he and Vaughn were high school rivals. Hamilton inherited the lumberyard, the community’s principal source of revenue and employment, and promptly sold it to build a raunchy casino, The Wild Cherry. Hamilton has grown powerful and profited from gambling and corruption, but he should have known better than to make Vaughn angry...

The movie’s purported high moral stand against corruption is so much window dressing. Walking Tall is a shameless “guy” movie - if you’re lacking a Y chromosome, move along please, nothing to see here. There’s a bone-crunching football game, followed by an extended, bone-shattering brawl in the casino, all to a driving rock soundtrack. Big trucks and a big explosion dominate the action. The love interest is an erotic dancer at the casino, and her first scene is a gratuitous striptease. Lo and behold, before the movie is out, our babe is in a bikini firing a gun.

On the strength of his performance here (I can’t even remember him from The Mummy), The Rock may forge himself a career as the next Vin Diesel. Real name Dwayne Johnson, The Rock was born in San Francisco and raised in Hawaii. He’s half-Samoan and followed his father and grandfather into the World Wrestling Federation. He boasts only a handful of facial expressions - his specialty is mild concern - and seems unable to express more than one emotion at a time. Still, he’s popular with audiences and movie stars have emerged from less likely sources. As his best buddy, Johnny Knoxville (creator-star of MTV’s reality stunt series Jackass) has the same crumpled, fidgety look as Mark Ruffalo. He makes for a surprisingly likeable sidekick.

The film’s five writers between them come up with a few good lines. Knoxville gets the best, describing the casino as “nothing but fake boobs and real arseholes”. Director Kevin Bray (All About the Benjamins) keeps matters short (at 85 minutes) and simple. By the time The Rock starts swinging his homemade club, chances are you’re on his side. But that’s not much of an achievement when the bad guys are so dastardly. You pick Hamilton as the villain from his first appearance - he wears black and sneers a lot.

The story’s roots in history seem distant now (though from what I’ve read of the original, it played fast and loose with the facts to mythologise Pusser in his own lifetime). I haven’t seen the 1973 movie, but I can’t imagine it being as much of a cartoon as this. This remake has energy; it’s nonsense with pace. Walking Tall is a simulated movie with a simulated movie star.

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originally posted: 08/04/04 07:50:40
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User Comments

9/16/17 morris campbell walking out boring as fuck 1 stars
1/04/16 Charles Tatum So far removed from orig, I can't believe they call this a "remake." 3 stars
10/23/15 david froman average action flick 3 stars
9/17/12 roscoe one of the rock's worst 2 stars
8/05/10 Eveline not good boring 1 stars
7/28/10 action movie fan silly imitation of much better 1974 film-joe don baker was much better 2 stars
9/20/09 Nifty Swift Lizzy Lame Ass 'Rock For Brainz' really is a joke! Put that eyebrow down jerk... 1 stars
8/13/08 Brenda If your friend owns it borrow it good. otherwise meh 3 stars
4/16/07 johnnyfog The Rock looks silly, but I liked the other characters. 3 stars
2/23/07 Caz Amazing action, great acting! 5 stars
11/19/06 R.W.Welch Not quite up to the 70's schlock classic, but OK. 3 stars
11/16/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 4 stars
10/16/06 james woooooooo 5 stars
8/14/06 Sharon this movie was pretty good! and Quigley johnny knoxville is not an annoying sidekick! bitch 4 stars
4/02/06 JRE where's the point? 3 stars
9/02/05 Tom Burns A very cool movie. The rock is awesome! 5 stars
5/27/05 Quigley completely devoid of anything good. mindless sex, annoying sidekicks, and bull-crap clique 1 stars
4/12/05 scott einig bull-crap at its highest! it can't get lower, folks 1 stars
4/09/05 B Kniprath It is hard to remake a movie from 30 years ago. 4 stars
3/29/05 indrid cold Actually not that bad if you go in with low expectations. 3 stars
1/16/05 keithers.. The Rock was always a better actor then he was a wrestler 3 stars
12/25/04 Freddy lame ending. like that white dude could give the rock so much trouble 2 stars
10/17/04 Dan Good movie, loved the action sequences, especially the shotgun one with knoxville :D 4 stars
10/04/04 Amy Carter best movie I've seen this year!!! 5 stars
4/28/04 Lona Collins the movie was pretty good a little short but thats alright, because I am a huge rock fan! 4 stars
4/27/04 4x4 Wife dragged me to it instead of 50 First Dates. Can't complain to much. 3 stars
4/15/04 rojo The Rock is better than this. 3 stars
4/10/04 Bob Brady entertaining, lot of action good flick 3 stars
4/08/04 lucas good movie not best but worth a look 4 stars
4/08/04 KingNeutron Rock gets better with each film, but Knoxville almost steals the show 3 stars
4/07/04 PiaHawk the rock is so hot, i dont care wat he does. if he just stood there, i would have loved i! 5 stars
4/06/04 Krysta Buttons the movie was definatley a boys movie, to much violence for me thank you. 1 stars
4/05/04 taohgist The Rock is a wrastler, always will be, the story is good, 20 years ago 4 stars
4/04/04 Randy Blah 2 stars
4/03/04 Jiz Good but forgettable. Rundown had better action, but it also had SWS and that monkey scene 3 stars
4/01/04 Ayatolla of Rockinrolla Not as good as Rundown, but Rock and Knox connection were very good 3 stars
3/28/04 Christina saw a free screening last week. not bad. 4 stars
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  02-Apr-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 28-Sep-2004



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