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!