—About this Film
Okay folks; let me cut to the chase. Walking Tall is no different than every other action flick you’ve ever seen. The budget is lower than most action films, the plot is predictable, the scope of the characters is very simple and basic, but the story remains the same. Soldier boy comes home to find his town corrupted by evil. Soldier boy gets his butt kicked by the henchmen of the town’s corrupt ringleader. Soldier boy stands up for himself, stands up to the town ringleader, makes a fool out of the authorities who are in cahoots with said ringleader, shuts the ringleader down, gets the girl, and restores the dignity of his beloved town. And, he gets to kick lots of butt along the way. Like Ecclesiastes 1:9 states, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
You’ve seen the same story in the great westerns of the 1930’s and 40’s. You’ve seen the same story in the war films of the 50’s and 60’s. You’ve seen the same story in the gritty action films of the 70’s, 80’s and the 90’s. You’ve seen this story countless times in the films of this very young millennium. Chances are, you will see this story told again…and again…and again…
The question: Why is this type of story still so popular? Why, after seeing this story told dozens of times, are audiences (like the one I saw the film with) still cheering when victory is won and our hero is vindicated? What attracts us to such a timeless story that is endlessly retold?
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. --The Bible, Matthew 5:7
The LORD is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. --The Bible, Psalm 9:16
The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. --The Bible, Psalm 33:5
These Scriptures highlight two of God’s mighty characteristics: He is righteous and is known by and loves justice. He blesses those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (right-standing). The hero of this film, Chris Vaughn (The Rock), as well as the heroes in other films of this nature, is hungry for righteousness and justice in his hometown. We, the movie going audience, pay our $9.50 admission (more or less, depending on where you live) to see these stories because there is a God shaped part of all of us who hunger and thirst after justice and righteousness.
In this film, Vaughn comes home from the Army and finds his town in a disgraceful state of affairs. The local mill, which was the heart, soul and financial center of the town, has been closed. In its place is a new financial center: a casino; a place of total decadence. The casino is run by his childhood rival, Ray Templeton (Neal McDonough). It’s a place where your inhibitions are left at the door. You can do whatever (or whomever) you want. Vaughn’s friends take him to the casino and he is not impressed. He sees illegal drug transactions taking place, sexual fantasies offered behind closed doors and eventually watches his friend get bamboozled out of his cash, thanks to some loaded dice. Vaughn stands up for his friend by kicking some major security guard butt. Unfortunately, his courageous act nearly costs him his life. He’s left permanently scarred by the incident…literally and figuratively.
But, in spite of a sheriff who won’t plead his case (due to his ties with the casino owner), Vaughn continues to take a stand for righteousness and justice…much like our classic movie heroes. After a near fatal overdose of crystal methamphetamine by his young nephew, Vaughn, in a scene reminiscent of Christ’s turning over of the moneychangers tables at the temple, throws down the gauntlet by ripping the casino apart with his trusty 2x4. His actions cause him to be put on trial. But he beats the rap and is eventually elected sheriff of the town. Then all hell breaks loose.
I would add a spoiler alert here, but it’s unnecessary. Everyone in the theatre knows that The Rock is going to emerge victorious. But, as the old saying goes, getting there is half the battle! The film is rated PG-13, so the battle is not as brutal as it should have been (this film is a remake of a 1973 film based on the true story of Buford Pusser. Both his life and the original film featured more extreme brutality that this film could every come close to showing), but the end result was definitely worth the bags of popcorn left behind in the auditorium.
We are a people who (most of the time) love justice just as much as God does. That’s why this story has been told and will continue to be told in various forms until the return of the Lord. No matter how evil some parts of our lives are, we still are attracted to the battle of good vs. evil. Movie going audiences across the USA still desire and hunger to see truth, justice and righteousness prevail over all obstacles on the big screen. If they’re willing to ignore the technical details and follow the simple, timeless truth of this story, they shall indeed be filled.