Directed by Kevin Bray. USA. 2004.

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The first big screen version of Walking Tall, starring Joe Don Baker, was released in 1973 and proved a huge hit with moviegoers worldwide. In typical Hollywood fashion, thirty years after the original took to cinemas, former wrestling star The Rock takes the lead in this pointless remake. 

As with the original, the theme remains. Chris Vaughan (The Rock) returns to his childhood home in the Pacific Northwest, having left behind a decorated career in the US Armed Forces. The simplicity and neatness of the idea is not the problem. An all- action muscle-man by definition, The Rock takes on an unrealistic role as a lone soldier whose mission is to reinforce morality in a drug ridden town. He does this armed solely with a wooden bat.  

The clichéd and shallow storyline is sadly predictable. Along with restoring law and order, Vaughan rekindles his romance with his high school sweetheart who, until his arrival, worked as a stripper at the local casino. 

Director Kevin Bray has clearly aimed the movie at The Rock’s core market of undemanding male teens. Bray combines the testosterone of his ‘one role only’ lead with the goofiness of Johnny Knoxville in an attempt to create a ‘straight man funny man’ pairing. This is an attempt that, unfortunately for Bray and the audience, fails miserably.  

After making his Tinseltown debut in the disappointing The Mummy Returns, The Rock’s acting continues to be as wooden as the bat he carries. It seems apparent that Hollywood’s intention is to groom him as the next ‘Arnie’. From this point on, things can only get worse for him. A seemingly pointless acting career would undoubtedly see The Rock make the transition from muscleman to actor to Governor of California.  

Even with a brief running time of 85 minutes, only the more avid Rock and Knoxville fans will be able to handle this one.

Jack Gibson
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