What The Rock was cooking in “Walking Tall”, a remake of an obscure 1973 movie, did not smell nearly as good as his most recent cinematic endeavors.
Although Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson found box office success in past efforts such as the muscle-bound, CGI-laden “Scorpion King” and the muscle-bound, humor-laden “Rundown”, his current attempt to muscle his way to another blockbuster was tragically lacking.
“Walking Tall” was inspired by the true story of Buford Pusser, a man who returns to his once-idyllic mill town to find the mill closed and the town being fueled by drug money and a seedy casino.
In this rendition of the story, the main character Chris Vaughn, played by Johnson, returns home from the military only to see his town has changed drastically.
Drug exchanges are transpiring in the alleyways and the police force basically shutdown along with the mill, allowing the underhanded dealings of the new casino to overtake the town.
Jay Hamilton, played by Neal McDonough, was once a friend of Vaughn’s, but has become the evil lord of this town, peddling crystal meth, employing the town’s women in various “service” positions and encouraging his thugs to put down any resistance by whatever means necessary.
Vaughn and Hamilton become arch nemeses after Vaughn is elected sheriff in order to clean up the town as he sees fit.
This includes doing ridiculous amounts of damage to any and everything with a piece of cedar wood and tearing apart the custom vehicle belonging to a member of the drug ring.
Joined by Johnny Knoxville in a typical comedic turn as his goofy deputy, the pair’s rampages are more than mildly amusing but pale in comparison to the annoying aspects of the film.
Randomly placed scene changes happen too fast leaving much action unseen.
Add that with the complicated relationships between Vaughn and other characters that are hinted at but never explained and you have a movie that should have been entertaining turned into a bit of a chore.
From the very beginning, it is apparent that director Kevin Bray, from “All About the Benjamins,” had a specific vision for this movie-one in which the audience would laugh, cry and go home not too unhappy that their pockets were $8 lighter.
It appears he expected the powerful presence and charisma of Johnson and the entertaining antics of Knoxville to carry the film.
However, valiant efforts on their parts could not make this story of peculiar heroism easier to swallow.
The by-the-book camera angles and editing tricks, slapstick humor and all the characters and plot lines that were never quite fleshed out made for a less-than-filling helping of a movie.
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