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The Rock as Chris Vaughn
Johnny Knoxville as Ray Templeton
Ashley Scott as Deni
Neal McDonough as Jay Hamilton, Jr.
John Beasley as Chris Vaughn, Sr.
Barbara Tarbuck as Connie Vaughn
Kristen Wilson as Michelle
Khleo Thomas as Pete
Michael Bowen as Sheriff Watkins
Smackdown! goes to Washington. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in this remake of the 1973 classic of the same name. The name of the main character has changed, so it is no longer the story of sheriff Buford Pusser, but the story of The Rock's character, Chris Vaughn. Rural Tennessee has been replaced with Washington state and the hillbilly thugs have been replaced with... former high school football jock thugs.
The movie maintains the same fundamental plot as the original. Man comes home from being away. The town he remembers is not as good now as it once was. He wages a small war to make the town better again.
The Rock is great for this role. He has a commanding presence and he can carry a 4 foot long wooden post and make it look like a usable weapon. Johnny Knoxville makes a good sidekick, adding just a bit of humor but not going overboard.
The theatrical release has a PG-13 rating and a very short running time of about 75 minutes. MGM allegedly had 25 minutes cut from the film to receive the rating that they wanted. Sadly it also looks like a lot of back story was taken out with extra violence. Although entertaining and filled with action, what remains of the movie seems a little hollow. Many of the events could use more explanation and some of the characters could have had more time to develop.
Walking Tall deals with some tough issues, organized crime and corrupt police, but they are only addressed with The Rock's 4x4. It is obvious that he is opposed to the degeneration of the town he grew up in, but the film devotes little time to anything but the violence that he uses to correct the problems. There could be more story here than just swinging a chunk of wood at people.
Who should see this movie? Rock fans will love him here. This is a good starring role for him and he carries it well. He dominates the screen when he is on it. Fans of WWE wrestling should also enjoy the movie - it is a WWE production, and the action is often in your face and personal. Some of the scenes are comedic but that is far secondary to the primary action. Ashley Scott plays an old girlfriend and provides a slight love story, but like the rest of the back story it has been minimalized to give more time for the action. If you are looking for a thought-provoking film you need to go someplace else. Overall it is a fun film and should please anyone wishing that they could take justice into their own hands.