This movie is one of the most ridiculous, over-the-top pieces of shit that I have ever seen.
This poster tells you a few things about Walking Tall:
- The Rock is in it
- The movie is called Walking Tall
- It is based on a true story
- It is about one man standing up for what’s right
Well, The Rock is in it and the movie is called Walking Tall. But based on a true story? It’s “based” on the story of Buford Pusser, who not only had a terrible name but was sheriff of a Tennessee county from 1964-1970. Walking Tall takes place in 2004 in Washington state, so that alone gives you a hint at the differences we’re talking about. And about a man standing up for what’s right? That is so far beyond true that it’s laughable.
Chris Vaughn (The Rock) comes from the US Army Special Forces (of course) back to his small hometown to find that it’s sort of a piece of shit. The cedar mill has been shut down for 3 years, which is where Vaughn had planned to work, because I guess his entire family declined to tell him that it was closed, and instead a giant casino has opened up. In the three (or we can be generous and say 5) years that the casino has been open it has completely turned the town upside down; its corrupt security sells crystal meth to kids, the games are rigged, and apparently the town economy depends on the casino so much that the local police literally refuses to do anything against them. We find all of this out because Vaughn visits the casino, now owned by a childhood friend, Hamilton (Neal McDonough) and sees loaded dice being used and causes a fight, leading the casino security guards to . . . bring Vaughn to the casino basement and torture him with a boxcutter? Yes! Because that’s not crazy! And cops refuse to press charges because of the aforementioned power the casino has. Um, okay.
Eventually, Vaughn is arrested after he takes a piece of lumber to the casino and its staff. At his trial, Vaughn fires his attorney and displays his scarred (by the torture) abdomen and promises the town that if he’s acquitted, he’ll run for sheriff and clean up the town. Ha ha, oh Vaughn, you silly naive little bird! That’s not how the US Justice System works!! But, that is how Walking Tall works because he does get acquitted and then does become sheriff. And here’s where the movie shifts.
Until now, it’s been Vaughn versus the corrupt casino. But as soon as Vaughn is made sheriff, he fires the entire police department and hires his old buddy Johnny Knoxville (playing Ray) as a deputy because Ray spent time in jail for drugs so Vaughn thinks that’ll be helpful. Even though he’s totally unqualified (thoughthey both are). And even though now this entire town has a total of two police officers. So Vaughn and Ray go after Hamilton and all the casino people, not unlike they went after Vaughn in the first place. In fact, Vaughn pretty much acts just like the former police did, except just in a different direction. He’s such a terrible, irresponsible sheriff that he has sex with a former stripper in the police station and lets her stay overnight – then recruits her to help him murder former police officers as they attack the police station the next morning. Okaaaaaaaaay?
In the end, all is well! Hamilton and his cronies are dead, the casino is gone, the mill is back, and Vaughn is the victor! Except the real losers are the residents of this town, which can apparently do a drastic 180 every time the smallest change happens. So Vaughn is not this virtuous guy doing what’s right. He’s a corrupt asshole just like the rest of the people in the movie and has no problem manipulating and/or killing his fellow residents to achieve his goals. Glad we have someone standing up for what’s right!
I was not excepting a lot from this movie but the story was far more intense and unbelievable then I was expecting. This movie kind of reminded me of the remake of Psycho. I understand this movie is a remake of sorts and it really shows in the film. There are so many instances where it seems like this story should have taken place about 100 years earlier. I mean there is a scene where a bunch of bad guys just walk up to the police department and just shoot it up! Why would that ever happen in broad daylight? It feels so much more out of a western than a modern story set in today’s world.
The other thing that’s pretty funny about this movie is that fact that The Rock is just as bad at being the town sheriff as the last corrupt cop. He just thinks he’s doing a good job. He fires the whole police force and hires Johnny Knoxville. So the whole town is only protected by these two? They make it seem like the only trouble in this town is an evil casino and the fact that drunk drivers, domestic disturbances, and pretty much every other illegal situation no longer exists.
I’m glad I finally watched this movie because it really was way over the top!