Movie Review

Walking Tall

One man will stand up for what's right.
Walking Tall Movie Poster

US Release Date: 04-02-2004

Directed by: Kevin Bray


  • Dwayne Johnson
  • Chris Vaughn
  • Neal McDonough
  • Jay Hamilton, Jr.
  • Johnny Knoxville
  • Ray Templeton
  • John Beasley
  • Chris Vaughn, Sr.
  • Barbara Tarbuck
  • Connie Vaughn
  • Kristen Wilson
  • Michelle
  • Khleo Thomas
  • Pete
  • Ashley Scott
  • Deni
  • Michael Bowen
  • Sheriff Watkins
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: April 2nd, 2004
Dwayne Johnson in Walking Tall.

Dwayne Johnson in Walking Tall.

In Walking Tall, The Rock solidifies his domination as action hero of the decade. This is a remake/adaptation of the 1973 film of the same name, based on true events in the life Sheriff Bufford Pusser. However, in this version his name is Chris Vaughn.

After eight years in the U.S. Army, Chris returns to his small hometown, hoping to get a job at the local lumber mill. However, the mill, which was the town's major source of income, has closed down. The town now relies on a new casino for revenue. The casino is owned by an old acquaintance and invites Chris in. He finds his old girlfriend stripping, and the dealer at the crap table cheating. He gets into a brawl with security; they cut him up fairly bad and leave him for dead.

He survives, and goes to the police to press charges. The police, in so many words, inform him that the casino, and the money it puts into the community, is more important than Chris's problem. After he discovers that his nephew is doing crystal meth, bought from security guards at the casino, Chris decided to take care of his problem himself.

With a piece of lumber, he walks into the casino and busts some heads. The casino owner then presses charges against Chris, which of course gets taken seriously, and they all end up in court. Chris defends himself. He tells the jury that if they clear him of these charges he will run for sheriff. They do and he does. His first act is to fire the entire police force. They in turn go to work for the casino owner, and war breaks out.

The only person on Chris's side is his old pal Ray, whom he makes a deputy. The obnoxiously funny Johnny Knoxville plays Ray. Deputy Ray is like a trailer trash Barney Fife just out of rehab.

Beside the main character's name, this movie makes some other changes. In the original version, the problem was moonshine. Chris, as well as The Rock, is a son of a biracial family. What is so utterly great about it here is that it is never made an issue or even brought up.

Although the vigilante side of the movie originally made this story controversial, you have to respect a man who stood up for what was right. The Rock never plays it over the top, although, at 6' 4", it is sometimes hard for him to be subtle. Never do you feel the action is over done.

Reviewed on: February 27th, 2006
Dwayne Johnson in Walking Tall.

Dwayne Johnson in Walking Tall.

Sorry Eric, but the action in this movie is way over done. It is so unbelievable as to be completely preposterous. The scene where all of the fired deputies attack the police station trying to kill Chris with what seems like thousands of rounds of ammunition is the most obvious example. These guys may have been ineffective, and even corrupt, lawmen but that is one giant step away from trying to murder the new sheriff in broad daylight. This town seems to exist in a universe of its own.

It reminded me a bit of It's a Wonderful Life. You remember how different George Bailey's town was without him. Well apparently the mill that closed down was just as important here. Suddenly the police are all crooked, the nephews doing drugs, and the ex-girlfriend is stripping, with the lame excuse of it being the only way she can pay the rent. Huh?

Eric your description of Johnny knoxville's character is more entertaining than anything in the movie. I quote, "Deputy Ray is like a trailer trash Barney Fife just out of rehab."

The one thing this movie has going for it is The Rock. He is a born Movie Star. First of all he is gorgeous, exudes tons of personal charm and magnetism and, as Eric mentioned, is about the only person in the movie downplaying it. Anyone who can come out smelling like a rose in a stinker like this must have something going on. He says more with a raised eyebrow or a slight chuckle than many more heralded actors can. Hopefully he will someday get a script that equals his natural ability. This one sure doesn't but like any great star he makes the most of every moment of screen time.

This movie is worth watching only for him.

Reviewed on: May 8th, 2010
Dwayne Johnson and Johnny Knoxville in Walking Tall.

Dwayne Johnson and Johnny Knoxville in Walking Tall.

I have to agree with you Patrick. The action is overdone, with the scene you mention being the prime example. The Casino owner who likes to think that he's running the town panics and tries to murder the new Sheriff for pretty much no reason. Chris, for all his threats, still has to follow the letter of the law as Sheriff and would have to prove all of his allegations, but then the villain goes ahead and tries to kill him just to help him out.

The Rock really is the best thing about this movie. He has a charm and a naturalness about him that makes him a star. Knoxville's character isn't in it enough to provide the comic relief that he should have. The stripper girlfriend angle doesn't provide any relationship depth so at least it could have provided some nudity, but it's all kept depressingly PG-13.

Blessedly the whole movie clocks in at a mere one hour and fifteen minutes. Even that's about fifteen minutes too long, but at least it doesn't drag on overly long.

At least the action is fairly decently executed, even if it is implausible. The Rock's many years of wrestling certainly taught him how to fake taking a blow.

I wouldn't go so far as to say this movie is worth watching because of The Rock, but that's only because I don't think this movie is worth watching at all, but what redeeming features it does have are certainly provided by him.