Plot: Chris Vaughn (The Rock) is a retired member of the special forces, but now he has focused on a more normal lifestyle. Back in his rural hometown, his family once ran a lumber mill that helped spark growth and success in the area. Now Vaughn wants to return to his roots and revive the mill business, as well as settle down. But when he arrives back in town, he can’t believe his own eyes, as the town as degraded into almost chaos. His high school rival Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough) has used his family’s riches to close down the mill, then buy whoever and whatever was needed to further his own criminal goals. The law has little to no control over his actions, since no one will stand up to him. Now this once peaceful town has turned into a haven of violent crime, where the residents are unable to be secure, even in their own homes. But even as Vaughn decides to take a stand, can one man truly make a difference or will his actions lead to tragic consequences for all involved?
Entertainment Value: The original Walking Tall was a brutal, hard hitting movie inspired by the real life vigilante turned sheriff Buford Pusser, but this remake takes a lighter, more popcorn action approach. This is sure to delight some, who might not like the darker style of the original series, while others might dislike how the real life events are watered down to an action/comedy. The narrative here is similar to the original, but the tone is much different and there’s more of a focus on stylized action, rather than the brutal, more believable violence. The pace is brisk and the movie barely cracks 80 minutes, so there is little filler and it might not be a great movie, but Walking Tall is never slow or dull. This also leads to more kinetic, Hollywood style fight scenes, which are the highlight of this remake. The movie has a sense of humor, even in more drama fueled moments, with Johnny Knoxville around to ensure there’s always a little comic relief at hand. I much prefer the original Walking Tall series, but for fans of The Rock, this remake might provide some entertainment.
I’ve never understood why The Rock was cast in this role, as he isn’t the kind of guy who needs a gun or board to intimidate folks. In the original movies, Pusser was a former pro wrestler himself, but he wasn’t a monster of a man, just a tough guy who wouldn’t back down. So The Rock as an underdog against average guys seems like a stretch, but he turns in a passable performance. The role doesn’t let him do much and he struggles in the serious moments, but he handles the basic needs of the action sequences well and his usual charm is present. As I said above, Johnny Knoxville is here for comic relief and little else, but he isn’t handed the best material to work with. So fans of his Jackass work might be a little disappointed here. Neal McDonough is a capable villain, as he gives off an effective asshole vibe in this one. The cast also includes Kristen Wilson, Ashley Scott, and Cobie Smulders.
The Disc: As part of MVD Entertainment’s Marquee Collection, this movie has a solid HD treatment that is an upgrade over the old DVD. The image shows good detail, natural colors, and spot on contrast. This doesn’t look as eye popping as some HD treatments, but the movie looks quite good here. On the extras front, The Rock provides the first audio commentary track, while director Kevin Bray fronts the second one, along with other crew members. You can also browse some deleted scenes, a blooper reel, a look at the stunt sequences, an alternate ending, and the film’s trailer.