Review by Gordon Justesen
The Rock, Johnny Knoxville, Neal McDonough, Kristen Wilson, Ashley Scott
Director: Kevin Bray
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 86 Minutes
Release Date: September 28, 2004
your tail-light fixed."
wrong with my tail-light?"
Tall is not only a remake of
the popular low budget cop thriller from the 70s, but it's also something of a
throwback to the over-the-top action films of yesteryear. This is definitely the
type of popcorn movie that either Sylvester Stallone or Chuck Norris would've
made back in the mid-80s. Those guys were kings of action movies back then, so
it makes since that star headlining this movie in 2004 is The Rock; the new
action king of cinema.
revenge flick is the ideal project for The Rock, who demonstrates as he did in
both The Scorpion King and,
especially, The Rundown, that he's not
just all about style and action--he can deliver some substance, too. You believe
him in this role every step of the way and his acting talent goes way beyond
impressive. You get the sense when watching him that his decision to go into
acting wasn't just some marketing gesture.
Rock plays Chris
Vaughn, a Special Forces vet who's left the service after serving his country
for a lengthy period. He's returning to his quiet hometown in rural Washington
State, hoping to reunite with his family and work with his dad at the town mill.
He wants a life of peace, nothing more and nothing less.
But once upon
arriving home, he begins to notice something a whole lot different about the
innocent town he grew up in. The town mill, which once provided endless revenue
for the community, has been shut down. Drug distributing seems to be a frequent
market amongst several townsfolk, and the one big source of revenue is a lavish
casino. In other words, the town may have lost its innocence.
Vaughn comes to
learn that the casino is owned and run by Jay Hamilton Jr. (Neal McDonough), an
old high school chum. Jay lives extravagantly and is cocky by the minute, but he
is quick to offer Chris a job position at the casino. He is then invited by Jay
to experience the casino action.
Things go awry once
Vaughn notices a high level of fraud going on at the casino. His outrage at the
cheating leads to a confrontation with a band of goons who beat him to a bloody
pulp, wound him severely, and leave him for dead. It doesn't take long for
Vaughn to realize that his old high school acquaintance is responsible for the
attack, as well as the corruption of the entire town.
recovers from the attack. When Jay confronts him with an apology and a bribe,
Vaughn rejects it and soon retaliates big time once discovering that the drug
infestation is coming by way of Jay's casino. He acquires an oak club, applies
some damage to the casino, only to be arrested by the town's sheriff, who's of
course on Jay's payroll.
On trial, Vaughn
stands up and defends himself, telling the jury he was justified in his actions,
and that if he's acquitted of the charges, he will run for sheriff and clean up
the town in a heartbeat. Garnering sympathy, Vaughn is soon elected sheriff and
wages an all out war against Jay. In the process, he deputizes his childhood
pal, Ray (Johnny Knoxville), who gets the job even as a convicted felon.
The result is an
eager-to-please action movie, while at the same time a somewhat unsatisfying
one. The one crucial flaw in Walking Tall
is the film's running time, which is simply way too short. Most of the time,
movies go on longer than they really need to. This is probably the first movie
I've seen in a long time that is way shorter than it needs to be.
watching the movie it felt to me like the movie itself was trying desperately to
hurry itself right to the end credits as quick as it could. Problems are
presented and solved in no more than 5 minutes time. For instance, right after
the courtroom scene where Vaughn announces he'll run for sheriff, what'd ya
know--he is all of a sudden the sheriff of the town. That scene and several
others could've used some tight editing.
Another factor in
the movie's unnecessary shortness is the mere fact that although the illustrated
running time is 86 minutes, the movie itself ends at around 72 minutes, followed
by the slowest and big worded credit sequence of all time. Given that there's
quite a lot of bone-crushing action in the movie, I have a feeling that so many
scenes were thrown out just to obtain a PG-13 rating.
On the bright side,
the cast does a mostly terrific job. In addition to The Rock's presence, I found
Neal McDonough a blast as the over-the-top-I-know-I'm-in-a-B-movie villain, who
ushers possibly one of the best sneers I've seen from any movie heavy in recent
memory. McDonough is very much a strong talent; look up his work on Boomtown
and Band of Brothers for proof. As the
sidekick, Johnny "Jackass" Knoxville proves that he can be taken
seriously as an actor with a surprisingly toned down performance.
So in the end, this
is a purely mixed reaction. I certainly feel that if the movie were longer and
had some tightening in many of the scenes, we would've had quite a movie here.
Those seeking a brainless action-fest won't have any problems adjusting to the
quickness of it. However, if what you're looking for is something on the level
of The Rundown, you're better off
watching that one again.
This is one
knockout anamorphic offering from MGM. The level of detail is absolutely endless
in the grand looking presentation. Picture is as sharp, as is the look to the
picture itself, and is ultimately clear as it can get, along with some rich and
dynamic colors. You won't find any picture flaws here, whatsoever. Pure quality
describes it all.
The 5.1 mix may
just blow you out of your seat--it's just simply incredible. Every single
element of sound for an action movie is in the highest form, from music playback
(plenty of tracks are played in the movie) to dialogue delivery and, most
especially, action sequences. The extended scenes of explosions, gunfire, and
bones being crushed put the sound system to the ultimate test, and the result is
phenomenal. It may not exceed the level of The
Punisher, but this truly ranks close as one of the surefire best sounding
discs of the year.
I was most
surprised since no "Special Edition" title was applied to this
release. I'm happy to report that the disc is terrifically loaded. There are two
commentary tracks; one with The Rock; the second is with director Kevin Bray and
additional crewmembers. Also included is a featurette titled "Fight the
Good Fight", a brief but funny blooper reel, deleted scenes, an alternate
ending, photo gallery, a trailer and bonus trailer gallery.