Anniversary Week: Walking Tall (2004) Review

No way, two reviews in one day?!  I love you guys that much I just had to give you another dose, even though I already reviewed Star Wars: The Phantom Menace earlier today.  When I was looking over all the reviews I have written, I came across the very first review I wrote when I started considering blogging.  I wrote a review for Iron Man 3 in May 2013 after it came out and then my Original Six were written in June and July .  But this review was written way back in March of last year where it has been sitting on my flash drive ever since… until recently that is.  I’m posting it completely unedited (with the exception of the added trailer and Cast & Crew sections at the end).  Enjoy!

Walking Tall (2004) movie posterSynopsis
When US Army Special Forces Sargent Chris Vaughn (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) returns home after eight years in the service, he discovers it to be a very different place than when he left. The town is now controlled by the corrupt local casino, run by his old high school friend Jay Hamilton (Neil McDonough). After discovering the casino is a front for drug trafficking, Vaughn, with the help of his friend Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville) embarks on a war to regain order in his community.

Walking Tall is one of those movies where the potential for a great film is there, but it doesn’t quite fulfill that potential. This is one of Dwayne Johnson’s earlier forays into acting (he was still going by The Rock!) and it shows. He doesn’t do a terrible job, but something isn’t quite there. However, when he and Johnny Knoxville are together is when he really shines. The chemistry between these two create some of the best scenes in the film. There is a scene where Chris tells Ray to protect his family while he is gone. The tonal shift between these two is well executed and the relationship between the two characters is really felt here through their portrayals by Johnson and Knoxville.

Neil McDonough plays a decent villain. However, he feels a little one dimensional, but I think that due more on the script than McDonough’s acting. The aforementioned Knoxville is, in my opinion, the star of this movie. He does a suburb job with his role as the loyal friend. Most of his scenes are with Johnson, who he plays off of quite well, but he shines in his own scenes and will make you laugh on several occasions. Besides Johnson, Knoxville, and McDonough, the other actors don’t have too much screen time. Which is a shame because it would have been nice to see several relationships, particularly between Chris and his nephew (played by Khleo Thomas), fleshed out a little more.

The fight scenes are the strong points of this movie. These scenes are where Johnson really shines and his wrestling background is a tremendous asset. When the main character’s weapon of choice is a 4×4 piece of cedar, you know you’re in for one hell of a fight. The camera work in these scenes is much better than a lot of fight scenes in action movies nowadays. Instead of a shaky camera to help portray the action, the camera work is more reminiscent of ‘80s action movies where the camera is steadier and allows the viewer to focus more on the fight than trying to keep their bearings. It is a most welcome change.

Despite its lack of characterization, Walking Tall is a straight forward action move that offers several good fight scenes. With a run time just shy of an hour and a half, it may not be one of the best action movies out there, but you could do much worse for an afternoon flick.

Walking Tall has some good fight scenes and good chemistry between Johnson and Knoxville, but overall it’s just an average action movie.


Favorite Quote
Chris: “Where did you learn that?”
Ray: “Cops.”
Chris: “That’s a good show.”


Cast & Crew
Kevin Bray – Director
David Klass – Screenplay
Channing Gibson – Screenplay
David Levien – Screenplay
Brian Koppelman – Screenplay
Graeme Revell – Composer

Dwayne Johnson – Chris Vaughn
Johnny Knoxville – Ray Templeton
Neal McDonough – Jay Hamilton
Michael Bowen – Sheriff Stan Watkins
Ashley Scott – Deni
John Beasley – Chris Vaughn, Sr.
Barbara Tarbuck – Connie Vaughn
Kristen Wilson – Michelle Vaughn
Khleo Thomas – Pete Vaughn
Kevin Durand – Booth

Well, what did you think about my first real attempt at writing a review?  I forgot I included TLDR (too long, didn’t read) and Favorite Quotes section.  Would like to see these sections added into future reviews? Both or one or the other?  Let me know below.  My least favorite Star Wars film, Attack of the Clones, gets reviewed tomorrow and I will be introducing my last new feature for the week.  Cheers!

The Last Stand Review

The Last Stand movie posterSynopsis
When Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) escapes from FBI custody, he makes a break for the US-Mexico border. His escape leads him through Sommerton Junction, Arizona, where the local Sheriff, Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his inexperienced deputies attempt to prevent his escape while waiting for reinforcements from Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker).

So after almost a decade of being out of film, with the exception of a few cameos, Arnold Schwarzenegger is back on the big screen. The Last Stand offers Schwarzenegger a way to get back into the swing of things. It isn’t one of Schwarzenegger’s best movies, but it isn’t one of his worst, either. This movie won’t get any awards for being original, but it brings great action from start to finish.

This film takes it’s time introducing all the characters and setting up the story. However, once the action does start, it is huge. And it doesn’t stop, or even really slow down for that matter. Every scene there is at least one explosion or gunfight (or both). It feels like a modern western.

Schwarzenegger throws out one-liners like he is back in the 1980s again. However, except for a handful, none of them are very memorable. This movie plays on the fact that Schwarzenegger is getting older. Despite being 65-years-old, he is still intimidating as ever. He may still be getting back into movies, but if this is where he is starting, then it bodes well for his future movies.

The supporting cast is excellent in this film. Luis Guzman brings his signature humor to his role as senior deputy. Jamie Alexander is becoming one of my favorite actresses. She has really proven herself in the Thor movies and does great here, too. The stand out supporting cast member is Johnny Knoxville. He doesn’t get much screen time, but when he does show up, he gets some pretty good laughs.

Schwarzenegger does great in his return to the big screen. The Last Stand starts slow, but once the action starts, it doesn’t stop. Schwarzenegger offers up some quips evocative of his films from his 1980s and 1990s heydays. The supporting cast is one of the best and Knoxville had the stand-out performance. The Last Stand is a modern western that puts the pedal to the metal and doesn’t let up.