Walking Tall (2004) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A former U.S. soldier returns to his hometown to find it overrun by crime and corruption, which prompts him to clean house.

  • After eight years serving the U.S. Army Special Forces, Sergeant Chris Vaughn returns to his hometown seeking for a job in the local mill. He is informed by Sheriff Stan Watkins that the mill was closed three years ago and now the Wild Cherry Casino, owned by his former high school friend Jay Hamilton, is the major source of jobs and income to the town. Chris goes home, and meets his best-friend Ray Templeton, who organized a football game with their friends. After the game, Jay invites Chris and his friends to spend the night in his casino on him, but when Chris finds that the casino craps dealer is cheating with loaded dice, he fights against the security men and is almost killed by them. When his nephew Pete overdosed on crystal meth sold by the security men at the casino, Chris realizes that the town is dominated by the mobsters and the corrupt sheriff and with a huge piece of wood, he breaks the casino and the criminals. He is prosecuted and in the trial, he promises to the jury and to the population that if he is acquitted, he would be a candidate for sheriff and clean up the town. Later, Sheriff Chris Vaughn has to fight against the organized crime to keep his promise.

  • The hard-boiled former U.S. Special Forces veteran and decorated sergeant, Chris Vaughn, is in for a rude awakening, as his peaceful hometown has changed radically. With the old cedar mill gone out of business for good--and a garish gambling house opened instead, promoting drugs and violence thanks to his old high-school nemesis, Jay Hamilton--Chris will have no other choice but to take matters into his own hands as the town's new sheriff. Now, Jay's murderous henchmen have no place to hide--and with a primitive and lethally efficient four-by-four fence post as his weapon of choice--Chris is determined to clean up the vice and the corruption in his beloved birthplace. Who will dare to stop Chris, the furious one-man-army?

  • When a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces returns to his small hometown in rural Washington State hoping to realise a childhood dream of working in the local lumber mill, he discovers that much has changed, as the normally tranquil town is now besieged by drugs, outbreaks of violence and a general feeling of malaise and terror, with many pointing a finger at the influence of a crooked casino where his ex-girlfriend now works as a dancer. Seeking to wreak vengeance, with a four-foot-long 4-by-4 in his hand, and righteousness in his heart, the highly-trained soldier, now the county's sheriff, and his deputy, realizes it's time to bust some heads with a very hard piece of wood.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Army Special Forces veteran Chris Vaughn returns to his hometown in Kitsap County, Washington, to reunite with his family and hoping to find work. His family haven't seen him for a few years and his nephew has grown considerably. His old friend, Ray, invites him to a football game with some of their old high school friends, including Jay Hamilton, whose family had been one of Kitsap County's wealthiest, owning one of the local timber mills. The game goes well until one of Jay's new friends, Booth, takes a cheap shot at Chris' injured knee. However, the game ends amicably enough.

    During the game, Chris notices that his nephew, Pete, was hanging around a few people who were smoking marijuana. Chris warns Pete not to get involved with such unsavory people, but Pete brushes him off. Ray and Jay invite Chris to join them at the town's new casino, built and run by Jay himself, who'd closed down his family's timer mill a few years before, putting the workers out. Several of them went on to work at the casino for Jay, a bit of news Chris isn't happy about. However, he tells them he'll join them that night for a sort of coming home celebration.

    When the party arrives at the casino, Chris is whisked away immediately to one of the private dancing booths. While he watches a beautiful woman dancing for him, he realizes after a few minutes that it's his old girlfriend Deni. Chris is bothered by her new job and goes back out onto the gambling floor and meets up with Ray. He watches a craps dealer very closely and sees that the man is using loaded dice. When he objects, he's set up on by Jay's new friends who act as his security force. Chris tries to fight them off but he's beaten severely and left for dead by the road. He ends up in the hospital and is sent home to recover, with Ray keeping him company.

    Chris takes his case to the local sheriff, Watkins, who tells him that Chris' beating case has already been investigated and that there's no conclusive evidence to prosecute Jay's security guards. Though Chris says the sheriff's indifference "will not stand", he still decides to leave it alone. One day while he's unloading lumber to rebuild the porch on his parents' house, Jay shows up and tries to apologize, saying that his guys went much too far in their treatment of Chris. Chris isn't impressed and rejects Jay's apology.

    Chris later hears that his nephew has suffered an overdose. When he confronts Pete's friends and demands to know the source of the drugs he took, they tell him the security guards at the casino have been secretly dealing them. In a fury, Chris returns to his parents' house and grabs a shotgun. He drives to the casino and, after a moment where he seems to grab hold of his rage, he leaves the shotgun behind and marches into the casino with a two-by-four and begins to smash the slot machines. When Jay's goons try to stop him, he beats them, some with his hunk of wood, some with his bare hands. He then takes the 2X4 and throws it through the one-way mirrored window of Jay's 2nd floor office. He goes out into the street to await the police and is arrested on the spot for assault.

    At his court date, Jay produces plenty of witnesses from his casino who testify that Chris seemed out of control due to the violence he was capable of, armed or not. After listening to hours of testimony, Chris fires his lawyer and tells the jury and courtroom audience about the pride the town used to possess and that they shouldn't have traded the closed lumber mill for a casino that deals drugs and rips off its customers. He announces that he'll run for sheriff with the promise of eliminating the corruption gripping the town. He then shows them the scars from the injuries he suffered when Jay's men beat him.

    Chris wins the election. He's approached on his first day by Sheriff Watkins, who tells him that his deputies are all reliable and Chris should consider keeping them on. Chris refuses flatly. Watkins gives him a veiled warning. Chris also stops Jay on the road while he rides in his Porsche with his girlfriend and delivers a veiled threat. Jay scoffs at Chris' new authority and tries to bribe him. When Chris walks away, he smashes Jay's taillight, ordering him to get it fixed.

    Chris hires Ray to be his first deputy. Though he's reluctant, given his own past of addiction, Ray accepts. Chris tells Ray they're going to break up Jay's drug empire by working on his staff. They start with Booth, spending several hours dismantling his customized pickup truck and throwing him in jail. Chris also reconnects with Deni and they rekindle their romantic relationship. She visits him at the jail while Ray stands watch at Chris' parents' home. The next morning, goons show up at the sheriff's station and begin shooting the place up, Watkins leading them. Chris and Deni manage to fight them off, Booth is killed in his cell during the firefight. Chris is able to escape and goes back to his parents' where Ray is battling with several other goons who attacked Chris' family. They fight them all off.

    Chris goes to the abandoned lumber mill, looking for Jay. The two battle through the place, eventually spilling out into the forest. Chris corners Jay and hits him in his knee with a log. Chris finally arrests Jay.

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