Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Walk Tall And Carry A Mediocre Stick

Former Hercules Kevin Sorbo is back on the big screen. Or back on the small screen, I should say, as his latest motion picture went directly to DVD. It's called WALKING TALL: THE PAYBACK. The Internet Movie Database refers to it as WALKING TALL 2, which is confusing, since there have been two movies and one television series titled WALKING TALL. The original WALKING TALL was about a badass Southern sheriff named Buford Pusser, who was played by Joe Don Baker, but by Bo Svenson in the sequel PART 2 WALKING TALL and FINAL CHAPTER--WALKING TALL.

This WALKING TALL 2 aka WALKING TALL: THE PAYBACK is supposed to be, I suppose, a sequel to another movie called WALKING TALL, which starred The Rock as a guy not named Buford Pusser. His name was Chris Somethingorother. In this movie, Kevin Sorbo plays a guy named Nick who has no connection whatsoever with anybody named Chris or Buford or Rock. I don't even know why it's a WALKING TALL movie, but I guess that's why MGM has filed for bankruptcy so many times. WALKING TALL: THE PAYBACK actually has the same plot as the 2004 movie starring The Rock, and a supporting character tells how his daddy used to tell him to “walk tall,” so I guess that’s all the justification the movie needs.

After his sheriff father is murdered by rednecks using violence to persuade the townsfolk into selling their businesses, Nick Prescott (Sorbo) returns to his Texas hometown for revenge. Prescott, as we all know from HERCULES, is about 6’3” and muscular, while the chief heavy, a scrawny, tattooed redneck named Harvey (AJ Buckley), is at least six inches shorter, so you wouldn’t think cleaning up the town would take much of Nick’s time. Come to think of it, this movie also has the same plot as ROAD HOUSE with the town boss and his thugs wandering around, beating up citizens and blowing up their businesses, while the hero tries to convince his frightened neighbors to fight back against a situation where law enforcement is powerless. Actually, that’s also been the plot for about 200 old westerns.

Prescott only once carries a big stick, but he does walk tall—he and his pump-action shotgun. He partners up with a fetching FBI agent from Dallas (Yvette Nipar), but she contributes nothing to the film and exists only as a pretty face. The big problem is Buckley’s unconvincing performance. You never believe this guy is sophisticated or intimidating enough to run such an elaborate criminal empire, even if it is tiny Boone, Texas. To express rage, Buckley yells a lot, not realizing that a crazy guy who acts crazy is never as scary as a crazy guy who acts normal. Director Tripp Reed (!) also shot WALKING TALL 3 with Sorbo at the same time. Too bad they didn't call it FINAL CHAPTER--WALKING TALL: THE PAYBACK, but then I guess there couldn't have been a WALKING TALL 4.

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