Talk softly and beat the heck out of everyone | VailDaily.com
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Talk softly and beat the heck out of everyone

Nickey Hernandez

When it comes to street vengeance, I’ve always preferred the business end of a blunt object. After all, nothing says payback like the satisfying sound of cedar cracking on a man’s cranium.We get lots of wood whacking in “Walking Tall,” an incredibly dumb flick that follows the ridiculous adventures of a do-gooding Army grunt.The Rock — the one-time WWF wrestler turned action hero — plays Chris Vaughn, a Gulf War I, Special Forces vet who returns to his trailer-trash childhood home and finds the place ridden with gambling, drug trafficking and hot chicks.It’s as if the Vegas strip and Bangkok were hauled to the Great Northwest.Vaughn, however, pines for the old days when his Washington State hamlet had a thriving lumber mill instead of a top-shelf gaming house filled with high rollers, go-go girls and strippers.Life inside the Wild Cherry Casino looks good indeed if you are the type of dude who enjoys wet T-shirt contests and cheap crank. But Vaughn is cut from different cloth. He hates gambling, considers lap dancing demeaning to woman, and sees the local meth trade as pure evil.Though Vaughn has more in common with the Taliban than the illegal entrepreneurs of his old haunt, he hangs in town and quickly brushes up against his old pal, Jay Hamilton.While Vaughn went off to kill for America, Hamilton built a casino, took over the community and turned toward the dark side. Hamilton, who looks very Nazi with his short blond hair and baby blues, lords over the Wild Cherry like a Bond villain. As the only employer in town, Hamilton controls everyone and everything. He grows fat off gambling, then doubles his pay by selling meth to every whore and teen-ager in town.Vaughn tries to rectify things early on, but gets a royal beat-down by Hamilton’s thugs. The Army vet can’t get justice from the law, because the local sheriff is on the take from Hamilton.With nowhere else to turn, Vaughn runs for sheriff and wins. He arms himself with a very large stick, then burns the Bill of Rights in order to save the village.Search and seizure, civil rights and the concept of innocent until proven guilty mean nothing to Vaughn, who rounds up low-level drug dealers, then beats them raw until they confess or lead him to Hamilton’s drug factory.Johnny Knoxville, the genius behind “Jackass,” plays a reformed drug addict who breaks heads along side Vaughn. Incredibly, Knoxville gets through the film without shoving anything up his backside.Then again, everything about “Walking Tall” is ass-backwards. The film at 86 minutes is so obvious that it appears written by and for those afflicted with ADD.Needless to say, Vaughn’s style of big stick justice holds sway.Until next time, Mr. Hernandez has left the theater to whittle.Nickey Hernandez is a former private investigator who speaks loudly and carries a very big gun.


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