Walking Tall

Review Date:
Director: Kevin Bray
Writer: David Klass, Channing Gibson, David Levien, Brian Koppelman
Producers: Ashok Amritraj, Jim Burke, Lucas Foster, David Hoberman
The Rock
Johnny Knoxville
Neal McDonough
A man returns to his small town after a stint in the Army, to find that everything has changed…for the worse. The mill is closed, drugs are rampant and his sister is turning tricks to support his dad’s smack habit (okay, that last part isn’t true…just checking to make sure that you read all this shite) Point being, the town is a mess and the man who returneth home, is none too happy about it. He decides to fight back with a big stick and a comedic buddy in tow (story of my life). The Rock rockin’ ensues!
A story that we’ve seen a million times before in which “one man” stands up against the oppression of a whole bunch of “baddies”, against all odds and kicks a whole lot of ass in the process. This movie works because it sticks to the basics, features some fun, 80s-type action sequences, but most of all, stars The Rock, whose charisma, good looks and all-around presence (& pecs) alone, make you want to root for him the whole way through. On the downside, the film only lasts about 75-80 minutes (!!!) and has very little meat on its bones. Of course, if you don’t mind a movie that sticks to the basics, requires very little thinking and asks that you forget about the so-called “plausibility” of one man standing up against a ton of jerks, this cinematic shotgun is sure to entertain you for what it’s worth. I liked this film’s set-up, which moved slightly and introduced everyone in a timely fashion. I liked the main bad guy, played delectably by Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea look-a-like actor Neal McDonough, and I liked how The Rock ultimately didn’t use guns to win his battles, but brute force and a big piece of wood (which incidentally, I will hereforth also be carrying by my side at all times). The audience with whom I watched this film was also taken by this “stick of pain”, since they literally cheered upon the first limber swing to a baddie’s head. Fun times.

It’s the kind of movie in which you should find yourself rooting for The Rock and his perfectly cast deputy, played effectively by Johnny Knoxville, and feeling quite satisfied whenever one of their enemies gets their head kicked in. Unfortunately, the filmmakers didn’t seem too interested in developing many of the secondary characters, introducing The Rock’s sister as a possible pawn in the game early on, but oddly dropping her out of any of the happenings by the end (considering the film’s short length, it makes you wonder). His parents were also given a few lines, but not enough to feel deeply about them, nor his girlfriend (although if there were awards given out to the “Best Shoot ‘Em Up Girl in a Red Bra”-she’d win!) Then again, the film isn’t really about developing a Byzantine plotline or characters, but about one man’s plight to stand up against the “wrong” in the world, and that part of the story is well established. I felt The Rock’s love for his small town and his pain from what it had become. I’m also happy to report that the man is a stronger actor than both Schwarzenegger and Stallone, and continues to look great shirtless! I don’t normally want a film to be longer, but in this case, it was just way too short for a supposed all-out “Rock” movie, with its final confrontation and concluding moments feeling somewhat truncated as well. A few more obstacles would have been appreciated. So even though I enjoyed the film overall, its soundtrack, its fighting scenes, its bad guy and its ass-kicking, bubble-gum-chewing lead (he was out gum as soon as he stepped back in town), I’m still waiting for the best all-around Rock movie to be released and unfortunately, this is not it.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Walking Tall