Originally created 09/23/04

'Walking' remake exploits original



Somewhere, Buford Pusser is mad. Although the recent remake of Walking Tall is dedicated to the memory of the legendary Tennessee sheriff, there's not a single Pusser in the proceedings.

All the iconography that made the 1973 film a rednecksploitation classic - the hickory stick (it's now a piece of cedar), the rural South, big Buford himself - are missing, leaving a transparent celebration of violence and vengeance that never evolves into anything.

In the new version, wrestling star the Rock stars as Chris Vaughn, a disenfranchised Special Forces vet who returns home to the decidedly un-Southern Kitsap County, Wash., where the old mill has closed, a casino has opened, and crime and corruption are rampant.

Cue the explosions.

Relationships, which drove the original Walking Tall, are unimportant here. Characterization also takes a back seat. This is a film with one goal, to progress from one superheroic fight scene to another in a minimal amount of time.

It's a waste. The story of Sheriff Pusser, a down-home Dirty Harry bending the letter of the law in order to enforce it, is interesting. And both the Rock and reality television prankster Johnny Knoxville, who plays the faithful sidekick, have screen charisma. But the filmmakers obviously felt that revisiting the ideas that made Walking Tall interesting would take far more effort than merely exploiting the title.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

Home movies

The title: Walking Tall (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, $27.98)MPAA Rating: PG-13Run Time: 86 minutes

FEATURES: The DVD features commentary tracks, a documentary, a few deleted scenes, an alternate ending and a short blooper reel. There is also a behind-the-scenes documentary on the film's fight choreography. Evidently everyone realized we aren't dealing with King Lear here.The verdict: HH out of HHHHH