April 13, 2004 > Walking Tall
Director: Kevin Bray
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson continues his rise to replace Arnold as America's next definitive action star. From the looks of things, The Rock isn't just going to replace Schwarzenegger; he's going to surpass him. Nothing against Arnie, but the main difference between the "Governator" and The Rock is that The Rock can act! I'm not talking about acting in the Shakespearian Thespian sense, because anyone who goes to see one of his movies expecting Oscar-caliber acting is watching it for all the wrong reasons. What makes The Rock so appealing is that he's got a lot of personality, and that goes a long way. Let's not forget where he came from. The Rock got his start in wrestling, which is more than 50% acting in the first place. Action movies are the next logical step on The Rock's ascension to action stardom.
In Walking Tall, The Rock plays Chris Vaughn, a Special Forces soldier who returns home from duty to find that his town has been corrupted by a local casino which acts as a gateway for all sorts of illegal activity such as drugs and prostitution. Walking Tall is based on a true story, and at its core, it's about a man who simply takes a stand and fights for what he believes is right. What starts as a tiff over a pair of loaded dice and ends with Chris in the hospital, beaten almost to death, becomes a fight for justice and the future of the entire town. When local law enforcement ignores the casino activities, Chris decides to run for sheriff. He wins, fires the entire force and hires his old high school friend Ray Templeton, played almost instinctually by Johnny Knoxville as his deputy, who seems to have found a niche in Hollywood as a bumbling but loveable sidekick.
Walking Tall isn't quite as light-hearted as The Rock's previous film, The Rundown. Though it only runs a surprising 75 minutes, the pacing works. It's serious when it needs to be, and often humorous. Action fans will appreciate the old school approach to the fight scenes in Walking Tall. No slow motion or leather in this movie, just The Rock, a four by four and a shotgun. Walking Tall works as an action movie, and I'm anxious to see The Rock do more of the same in the future.