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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by Bob Akester.)

photo caption:
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Chris (The Rock, right) is reunited with his mom Connie (Barbara Tarbuck), sister Michelle (Kristen Wilson), and father Chris (John Beasley, upper left) after being discharged from the Army.
end caption.


"Walking Tall": The Rock Rolls in Remake as Corruption Fighting Sheriff

Review by Kam Williams

In the early sixties, Buford Pusser retired from the professional wrestling circuit and returned to rural McNair County, Tennessee to discover that his hometown had degenerated into a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. He was dismayed to find it so overrun with corruption that even the police were unwilling to halt all the prostitution, moonshining, gambling, and other organized criminal activity which had invaded the area in his absence.

Not wanting to have to raise his kids in a depraved community controlled by mobsters, Buford decided to do something about it. So, he ran for sheriff and won, and embarked on a one-man crusade to clean up the streets, wielding a 4 foot long club as his weapon of choice. Though some cowardly, gun-wielding hoodlums would murder his wife in an ambush which also almost cost Pusser his own life, the hard-nosed lawman persevered and ultimately prevailed.

His extraordinary exploits have already been the subject of several biopics before. The first Walking Tall (1973) rode the wave of the emerging vigilante justice genre of the seventies, around the same time of other films like Dirty Harry, Death Wish and Billy Jack. The original was successful enough to spawn a couple of sequels, Walking Tall Part II and Final Chapter, before being spun into a TV series in 1981.

The new, and arguably improved, Walking Tall, starring pro wrestler-turned-actor The Rock, is very loosely based on Mr. Pusser. The names of all the characters have been changed, the tale is now set in a remote region of the Pacific Northwest, and events have been altered in the interest of the storyline.

The changes haven't prevented Hollywood from billing the movie as inspired by Pusser's real-life story. The upshot is that the remake is a high octane action film.

As the plot unfolds, Special Forces Officer Chris Vaughan (The Rock) has just been discharged from the U.S. Army. When he moves back in with his parents, he learns that his tranquil hometown is being terrorized by a crime syndicate run by Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough), a spoiled rich kid he remembers from high school. With the police on the take, Hamilton has the authorities looking the other way while he deals drugs and operates a casino/strip club.

Chris has a personal reason for getting involved, once he catches his sister's teenage son smoking marijuana. After he runs for sheriff and deputizes paroled buddy Ray (Johnny Knoxville), the pair embark on a campaign to rid the area of undesirables.

Very Good (3 stars). Rated PG-13 for graphic violence, profanity, sexual content, and teen drug abuse.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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