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Walking Tall : The Payback (DVD)

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In-name-only sequels are usually like black sheep relatives: if you’re linked, you never announce it. If you’ve got the same name, you make sure everyone knows that that’s where the tie ends.


Kevin Sorbo, Yvette Nipar, A.J Buckley, Haley Ramm

In-name-only sequels are usually like black sheep relatives: if you’re linked, you never announce it. If you’ve got the same name, you make sure everyone knows that that’s where the tie ends.

Good then to find one in-name-only sequel (and direct to DVD, too!) that the well-to cousins – in this case, Kevin Bray’s “Walking Tall” remake; starring The Rock and Neal McDonough – might actually be proud to announce as kin. It’s one to be proud of.

I can hear it now ‘the star of “Hercules” heading up two back-to-back sequels to a film that starred The Rock? Sheeh, how good could that be!?’ – Well, cloak the ruling for a spell… at least until you’ve sat through the thing. For all intents and purposes, the economically minded cash-in might actually have just as much merit as its predecessor.

Nick Prescott (Kevin Sorbo), the son of a sheriff, returns to his hometown to take on the bullies (naturally, they’re ‘Morris’s!) that are making life hell for everyone. With the help of a foxy FBI agent (Yvette Nipar; you may remember her from “21 Jump Street”) and some of the victimised locals, Prescott forms an army (whittled down to one by the end) and wages war.

It mightn’t have the names of the original (in fact, any of the “Walking Tall” series); it might be working on the budget equivalent of what it would take to buy a liveable commission house; and its director (newcomer Tripp Reed) may be as fresh as apples picked straight from the tree… but the makers of “Walking Tall : The Payback” have recognized their weaknesses and made sure to put the hard yards in in the other areas – like story, script (an uncredited Joe Halpin), and performance. As a consequence, some of the action sequences pack more of a punch than Tyson, and the storyline grabs you like a mugger in the night.

The biggest surprise of the film is Kevin Sorbo. Never thought much of the guy before. Granted, I’ve never seen his TV series “Hercules” (nor the latter one he did, “Andromeda”), but from what I could gather, he as a male model-type that had struck it large in acting . I was wrong. This dude is pretty damn charismatic, and as Nick Prescott, he’s superb. Sorbo comes very close to rivalling The Rock’s genuinely good performance in the first film. He really lets it swing too, in the first scenes, impressing that one step further.

Director Tripp Reed should let loose on a few more direct-to-video sequels… some of them could do with as much enthuse as he’s injected here. He’s definitely one to watch.

Yep. Colour me surprised. Direct-to-video sequels are usually pretty so-so – especially ones that are ‘in-name only’; hello “American Pie: The Naked Mile”! – but this is full-on ‘go-go’. Granted, it’s not the kind of film you’d probably sell you lung for (costs about that much to go to a movie these days) to see at the theatre, but on video or cable, it’ll definitely satisfy.

Bring on the next chapter.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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