Better than it had any right to be.
Walking Tall: The Payback (2007): 7 out of 10: Kevin Sorbo takes over the Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s role as a man who is minding his own business but eventually is pushed too far in this direct to video spin-off.
You know this is a good movie. Not perfect by any means and as predictable as all get out, but it is good. Or to put it another way, it is much better than a direct to video retelling of Walking Tall starring Kevin Sorbo has any right to be. Good acting, good music, and a decent script. Who would have thought it?
The Good: There are some outstanding performances in Walking Tall. A.J. Buckley is a proper, well-written villain. A lot of “better” movies could take some pointers from his performance. Another standout is Jennifer Sipes as the diner waitress who gives an outstanding performance in an admittedly underwritten role.
There are also decent action beats that are grounded in reality. Walking Tall has a good pace and keeps the action and occasionally tension building. The movie, to its credit, also has some intelligent twists that make following the otherwise by the numbers plot rewarding.
The Bad: Walking Tall’s lower budget does occasionally rear its ugly head. Never more so than during a funeral scene that is all sorts of wrong, considering the profession of the character that is dead. Not to mention none of the characters, good or bad, seem to possess cell phones to call each other for assistance.
Also, while I praise some twists and a couple of well-orchestrated scenes, this is a very by the numbers Walking Tall/ Death Wish style film. It is so by the numbers I am quite surprised they didn’t give Sorbo a dog for the bad guys to kill.
The Ugly: Kevin Sorbo and Jennifer Sipes have some outstanding chemistry together. They make sense as a couple and thematically their relationship adds a lot to the movie. Or it would have if she was Sorbo’s love interest. For reasons, I cannot begin to fathom the screenwriters’ saddle Sorbo with FBI agent (and world’s worst mother) Yvette Nipar. They have zero chemistry, and they don’t even live in the same county. I am not sure if the screenwriters felt that a diner waitress was not good enough for Sorbo’s horse rancher or that Sooba would not be attracted to a sexy blonde twenty-something who adores him and as a result gave him a more age and employment appropriate love interest.
In Conclusion: I had a lot of fun with this movie. It admittedly never went beyond a good time. I doubt I will recall having seen it a year from now. All that said it is better than it had any right to be — good job by all involved.