Walking Tall

Not Recommended. Not as good as the original. And you know, this one was only “inspired” by a true story, whereas the original was “based on” the true story. There’s something extra special about a story that really happened over a story that didn’t. But this one, about a soldier who returns to his small town and finds it taken over by evil drug peddling, stripper exploiting, casino operators, who just happen to be the soldier’s old friends. Well, when the hero stands up to corruption at the casino, he almost gets killed and then he responds and the violence escalates, tit for tat. But when the hero becomes sheriff of the town and tries to clean it up, there is all out war. What I like so much about this film is it’s value of standing up to and fighting evil men. If we do not, we will be overrun by them and our children will be destroyed by them. This is great. One tragic irony, if I may deconstruct the film for a moment is that there is this great aspect of connecting corruption, casinos, adult entertainment and drugs all together as a negative influence on society. That’s saying a lot in today’s morally relativistic world that sanctions such things as mere personal preference that we should not judge. And the hero is supposed to be above it. He scorns to see kids with pot, and the local adult bookstore. But for some reason, he has no problem watching a stripper himself. So adult bookstores are bad, but personal stripping is okay? Also, what I do not like about the movie is its vigilanteism: taking the law into our own hands. Though good in intentions, vigilanteism is ultimately immoral. (See me article: “A Time To Revenge?: Vigilanteism and Movie Justice in A Time to Kill. ) The law in the movie is set up as being corrupt and in on the casino dirt and drugs. And those drugs are destroying the kids, even the hero’s little cousin. So, emotionally, we feel justified when the hero fights back by vandalizing the casino. As much as I want to believe this is okay, I can’t. God commands us to obey the law, even when it is corrupt (Romans 13, Daniel 1-3). So when the hero gets let off by a jury of his crime of beating up the bad guy’s casino and thugs because of their giving drugs to the hero’s little young cousin, well, we sure feel emotionally justified, but hardly morally so. The jury acquits the hero in vandalizing the casino because they understand it was in reaction to the bad guy’s own crime against the hero. Well, it seems to me that this whole jury disregarding the law and voting from the heart for personal revenge outside the law, is the whole problem with American jurisprudence these days. It may feel good to stick it to the evil guys who hide behind the law, but due process has been subverted, and with it, a just society, when juries ignore the law and make subjective judgments that violate established law. As much as I hate many laws, and consider them unjust, the responsibility of jurors is to judge in accordance with the laws not with their personal sentiments. If the laws are unjust, then they must be changed through due process, not through arbitrary will. Jurors do not make the law, they apply it in judgments. It is certainly the result of our postmodern relativistic culture that every man is a law unto himself and that moral and legal judgments are reduced to subjective individual preferences and sentiments. If there is no absolute standard of law (as in the Bible) to which all individuals and society is accountable then it will follow that men will use their legal positions to arbitrarily impose their personal wills upon the majority. Without objective external moral and legal theory, ALL law is oppressive imposition on society, so the Will to Power wins. Nietzsche wins. This is what we have in our modern Supreme Court and indeed our judicial system, which attempts to subvert the Constitution and legislate from the bench, rather than interpret law beholden to the objective standard of law passed by Congress. The Supreme Court has become a tyrannical manipulator of law. They have subverted the balance of powers. But the juror system is quickly becoming this as well. Encouraging people to decide from the heart rather than from truth or rational application of established law is descent into anarchy and the foundation of an unjust society. Back to the movie: When the hero runs for sheriff and wins in order to clean up the town, it could also be argued that he is simply using the law for his own purposes, rather than upholding and respecting the rule of law. He is really only a reflection of the villain, who is himself manipulating law to his advantage. So, morally, what you have is two villains, not a hero and a villain. Now, if the movie explored this moral struggle, fine. But it does not. It encourages vigilanteism. (And keep in mind, I believe self-defense IS morally justifiable and IS NOT the same as vigilanteism.) So in the movie, technically, the hero is justified in clamping down on the bad guys because after all, he is the law. But in truth, he is really only using the law as a cover for revenge. He bashes the bad guy’s car lights, which is a moment of audience glee, but is actually legally and morally unjustifiable, no matter how bad the villain is. The hero cuts up a villain’s truck with a chain saw while “looking for drugs” in the vehicle. Okay, that one is technically okay because of probable cause, but as you can see this is also a pretense for fighting crime with criminal behavior. It may feel emotionally satisfying to our vengeful nature, but I have to say it is not right.