Jersey Girl

Starring The Rock, Neal McDonough, Johnny Knoxville. Directed by Kevin Bray.
Running Time: 87 mins.
Walking Tall is a remake of the 1973 film of the same name.

Chris Vaughan (The Rock) is a decorated war hero with a shady past. After many years away, he returns home to his small town in Washington State. He can barely recognise it. The mill has closed, unemployment is high and an X-rated shop and the casino dominate the employment and social horizons of this once happy slice of middle America.

Although warmly welcomed back by his family, Chris falls foul of the big noise in town, his old archrival from school days, J. Hamilton Jr. (McDonough). He owns the casino. Chris fights J Hamilton Jr. in every way for the hearts and wallets of the town.

Dwayne Johnson was once a professional wrestler. It was in this arena he changed his name to The Rock. One can see why. As an actor he has kept the stage name, and exudes a real charisma on the screen. He is this generation's Arnold Schwarzenegger. But this star-vehicle film neither gives him depth or range.

Walking Tall is such an every-ran film that all The Rock has to do is walk through his scenes and throw a wooden post around. In regard to his weapon of choice the Rock is quite different from Arnie. In several violent scenes Chris fights off all the crooks in town, some wielding guns, with a huge lump of four-b-two. Now that's talent!

Walking Tall gives expression to the anger of middle America where the wealth of the nation is so unevenly spread. The problem with The Rock as social messiah is that vigilante-style revenge is given as the anecdote to the anger people feel.

Catholic social teaching holds that the ballot box is the more democratic and long-term response.

Fr Richard Leonard is the director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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