Review: “Walking Tall”

I’ll say one thing for the Rock, he copies from the best. If “Scorpion King” was a tamer “Conan”, and “The Rundown” a light weight “Romancing the Stone”, “Walking Tall” is his PG-13 reinvention of “First Blood”. It’s also a pretty damn good remake of the 1973 original starrer which went onto sequels and small screen reinventions. Sure if it wasn’t for the star power, this would be TV movie material at best, but the film rides on The Rock and he delivers with a strong charisma that’s charming one minute, and action hero powerful the next.

The film rides a more conventional road than its original, changing the family aspect for the better (all three actors delivering solid support) and inserting stock elements from Ashley Scott as an ex school flame to Johnny Knoxville adding just the right amount of believable comedic sidekick support. The film still struggles though with its uneasy mix of brutal violence and conservative morality. A very lean story is its strength but also its curse by simplifying things past the point of believability on more than one occasion.

Still, Director Kevin Ray runs a tight ship and gives the action a strong and powerful sense of brutality for a film of this rating, never half-baking it for a younger audience but never going too far in its displays of violence or adult themes to make the film objectionable for even young teens. A 70’s-themed score and nicely underplayed production design add to the atmosphere just right.

The simplified story and 86 minute runtime means we never explore the darker or more complicated side of the issues here – everything is painted purely black and white with The Rock certain to prevail against all the odds no matter what. It’s far from being a great film, but ‘Walking’ is a surprisingly enjoyable little conventional crowd pleaser which actually works.