Boy oh boy. I do believe Walking Tall is a secretly very solid BMT film. I might even entertain the possibility that it’s even better than very solid. Why? They took a very basic plot and twisted it until the main character literally became a monster. You see, the Rock arrives home and looks around and is like, “Why is the lumber mill closed? What is this tiny, tiny casino? And how did I lose a football game to Neal McDonough?” He becomes enraged by these facts (particularly the last one) and destroys everything in sight while visiting the tiny casino. The original at least then gave him a reason to go back and take further vengeance. This one? Not really. The Rock just works out a bunch and is good to go until he hears a rumor that maybe, possibly, kinda, vaguely someone in the vicinity of the casino sold some drugs to his nephew. A matter for the police, right? And maybe at least confirm a few facts? Nope. The Rock has no time for that. He instead just smashes up the casino like a crazy person. When they show his trial I was like ‘good, he’s a menace to this small town.’ They don’t even have the decency to make it all that clear that the local cops are in cahoots with our boy Neal. Besides it’s not like The Rock does much better when he becomes sheriff. He just kicks them to the curb for his own style of cronyism as he installs his woefully underqualified BFF as his deputy. Justice!
None of this makes sense, particularly as they zoom to a conclusion which consists of The Rock immediately finding out that it’s not just small-time drug deals coming out of the casino. They’re actually using the old mill as a place to make drugs in bulk! My god! He then beats up Neal, arrests him for the drugs, and reopens the apparently totally economically feasible mill. Woah! Neal, my man. You’re saying you had the entire infrastructure for a profitable lumber mill at your disposal and you closed it down for a little tiny meth lab? And the whole town was just sitting around unemployed ready to run the mill for you? Honestly you probably could have run the meth lab in a number of other places and made a bunch more money as the lumber mill/casino/meth mogul of the Northwest US. I guess I could see the argument of really beating down the town so you can run it, but don’t you want to run a thriving town? Who wants to go to a weirdo tiny casino in a dead mill town filled with meth. I just don’t think Neal thought this whole thing through.
I think you can tell from my obsessive recounting of the very plot of the film that I very much enjoyed it. It’s like a child wrote it. A big monster man just beats people up with only vague notions as to why he’s doing it. Anywho, one of the enduring mysteries of the franchise is what the term “walking tall” really means. Well, as far as I can glean from this film these are the rules for “walking tall”:
- When you observe some low level employee at a legitimate place of business doing something illegal do not alert the owner or call the police. Instead, punch the employee in the face and cause thousands of dollars in property damage.
- If you ever hear any rumors of illegal activity at a legitimate place of business, particularly from witnesses like children, do not alert the owner or call the police. Instead, grab a giant stick, hit as many employees as you can in the face with it, and cause thousands of dollars in property damage.
- If you don’t like a legitimate place of business because it’s bad, find out if the owner is doing anything illegal and don’t arrest him. Instead, engage in hand-to-hand combat and bloody him up real good so you can let him know that you now own the town.
So there you have it, in just three easy steps you too can walk tall. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Walking Tall (2004)? More like Shocking Fall, amirite?! Watch in amazement as the enormous Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson squeezes himself into a teeny tiny 75-minute movie. Let’s go!
- You heard that right, the film is 75 minutes long. Don’t be deceived by IMDb, or Amazon, or the runtime of the film. The film comes to a very quick conclusion and then there are 10 minutes of credits. A full 10 minutes.
- The most anxiety inducing part of the film wasn’t the gaudy casino, or the fights, or the exciting drug plotline. Oh no. It was wondering how The Rock’s poor family could afford to feed him without having jobs. Do you see him? He must eat like 5000 calories a day.
- Neal McDonough is a national treasure. The best bad movie bad guy ever.
- The film has a five minute montage of The Rock watching television and eating, and that is also just about how long they spend explaining (and concluding) the ultimate drug plotline of the film. When they were like “we need to find the bad guy’s drug cook site” I was sitting there wondering why they thought he must be producing the drugs himself … surely the head security officer at the casino could handle a small-time drug operation servicing a rural Washington community by himself. Apparently they needed McDonough’s Big Bad Bad Guy Brain to crack the code on getting people addicted to meth.
- Knoxville was fun though. Much like the original used Obra as a method for Buford to break down the moonshine businesses (which used poor black men as cheap labor), they used Knoxville as a tweaker who knew the ins and outs of the meth business.
- Borderline Planchet (Who?) for Knoxville who does his best to get beat up real good throughout the film. Product Placement (What?) for Miller Genuine Draft which The Rock drinks up at every opportunity. Great Setting as a Character (Where?) for Washington state. And a Worst Twist (How?) for the ultimate obvious conclusion that the drug cook site was the closed down mill. Solid BMT film.
I did watch the original film and really liked it. I get the concern about the glorification of revenge storylines which a lot of the bad reviews mentioned, and the ending is more than a bit wonky, but the film is a pretty fun early 70s actioner. I don’t think we need any other remakes or television series or sequels to this film, there are more than enough already.