Walking Tall is a 2004 remake of the 1973 film of the same name. It stars Dwayne Johnson and Johnny Knoxville. Like the original film, it was based on real-life Sheriff Buford Pusser, however, the main character's name was changed to "Chris Vaughn". The setting was changed from McNairy County, Tennessee to Kitsap County, Washington, US.
Chris Vaughn, a former Army Special Forces sergeant, returns to his small home town in Washington state to find some work at the cedar mill, but he finds that it closed down three years ago, and now, there is a new casino in town, owned by his old school friend, Jay Hamilton, who is now taking liberties because of the chaotic economic situation. With the mill closed down, the casino is the main source of income for the town. Vaughn decides to check out the casino, and sees the craps dealer use loaded dice. When Vaughn gets somewhat violent, the security guards subdue him, then carve his stomach and leave him for dead, but he is found and hospitalized, and eventually recovers. Vaughn goes to the Sheriff to place charges on those who carved his stomach, but the Sheriff refuses to allow Vaughn to press charges because the casino is viewed as so important. After Vaughn also finds out that his nephew, Pete, experimented with crystal meth, which was sold to his friends by a casino security guard. Vaughn goes to the casino, and using a piece of lumber as a club, he beats the security guards, and makes his point to Jay Hamilton that he won't tolerate the crime in his town anymore.
In the ensuing trial, Vaughn tells the jury (and the rest of the town) that if he is cleared of the charges, he will run for sheriff and clean up the town. He is then acquitted and wins the election for sheriff. Upon taking office, he fires the entire police force and deputizes his friend, Ray Templeton, who he knows will remain loyal and fight for what he knows is right.
Vaughn and Templeton find hidden drugs on Hamilton's right-hand man, Booth, and they take him into custody. In an attempt to make him rat on other drug dealers, they tear his truck apart, but he doesn't talk. The former Sheriff and his deputies then go to the Sheriff's office, blow up Vaughn's truck, and try to kill him, and while guns are being fired into the Sheriff's office, with his life in danger, Booth tells Vaughn where the drug base is, and where they make them, which is in the old mill. Soon after releasing this information, Booth gets shot, and dies. Vaughn is able to escape.
Vaughn's parents' house was raided by some of Hamilton's men, but Templeton, who was stationed there, managed to keep everyone safe with the help of Chris Vaughn Sr., Chris Vaughn's father. Vaughn then goes to the mill, and finds the drugs there, along with Hamilton, who sets a trap on Vaughn, and they fight for their lives in the woods behind the mill, with Vaughn eventually beating Hamilton, and placing him under arrest. Vaughn closes the casino, and the mill was reopened shortly after.
- Dwayne Johnson as Sheriff Chris Vaughn
- Johnny Knoxville as Ray Templeton
- Neal McDonough as Jay Hamilton
- Kristen Wilson as Michelle Vaughn
- Kevin Durand as Booth
- Ashley Scott as Deni
- Khleo Thomas as Pete Vaughn
- John Beasley as Christopher Vaughn Sr.
- Michael Bowen as Sheriff Stan Watkins
In the original film, Pusser uses a wooden club to beat the criminals. Director Kevin Bray wanted to update it by making it a baseball bat. There were objections, so the compromise was to just add a handle.
It received mixed reviews from critics. Based on 128 reviews collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 24% of critics gave Walking Tall a positive review, with an average rating of 4.4/10.
The film grossed $57,223,890 worldwide. The budget of the film was $46 million.
The southern rock/country band, State Line Mob included a song titled "McNairy County Line" on their 2008 album, Ruckus, which honors Buford Pusser and tells the story from a factual point of view.
Walking Tall: The Payback and Walking Tall: Lone Justice, are two direct-to-video sequels that have been released starring Kevin Sorbo.
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