For Home. For Family. For Justice.
I had wanted to get some Sorbo action onto this blog since day one but it just never happened. Recently I discovered that there were two in-name only sequels to the Dwayne Johnson movie from 2004 (and Bo Svenson series from the 80's, and Joe Don Baker series from the 70's) that starred Sorbo so I had to pick them up. Vigilante justice films can be good fun, so how did this go?
The town of Wherever (somewhere in Texas I think) is being slowly taken over by Harvey Morris (A. J. Buckley), his chief of police brother Walter Morris (Betley Mitchum) and their gang of thugs. Through police and mayoral corruption, and heavy handed tactics, Harvey Morris is gearing up to buy out the town for his own enterprise. The townspeople are too scared to act, all except for Sheriff Charlie Prescott (Richard Dillard) who is proving to be a pain in Morris' arse.
When the Sheriff dies under mysterious circumstances (his car is run off the road by Harvey and co., then set alight), Nick Prescott (Kevin Sorbo), his son, returns to town to get to the bottom of his death. As he digs deeper and deeper, Harvey and the boys make his life and his friends lives harder and harder. Townsfolk start dying but his tracks are so well covered by the afformentioned police and mayoral corruption that not even FBI agent Kate Jensen (Yvette Napir) can help. That's when Nick Prescott takes matters into his own hands!
I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It's more of a slow burner than a frenetic action film, but I think that is what you want from a vigilante justice style movie. The overall feeling is that of a western, and that is epitomised by the ending scene between Prescott and Harvey Morris which sees the two at twenty paces with fingers on their triggers, silos exploding in flames all around them. That's not to say that there isn't any action until the final fifteen, but that's really where it all kicks off.
We of course get a bar brawl, which is standard procedure for films like this; Prescott gives one of Morris' thugs a lesson with a pool cue. Most of the other violence in the film is that of Morris and his gang intimidating the townsfolk, including a nasty rape of the diner waitress Crystal. That alone should help set the tone of this film for you - it's gritty, like the town itself and the people within it. It's not at all dissimilar from Dolph Lundgren's Missionary Man, except that instead of a motorbike Nick Prescott rides a horse and a pickup truck, but the general story of a town overrun with corruption and thugs echoes this plot considerably.
Sorbo seems born to play this kind of role. He doesn't need to emote any more than a grimace and a twirling of a club and sawn-off shotgun. He has a physical presence that makes for a believable vigilante and looks at home in the country threads and riding horseback. He actually looks quite threatening in the final fifteen when unleashing The Payback that the title indicates, beating on the bad guys with solid punches and pipes to the face.
Buckley is okay as the bad guy Harvey Morris, but he doesn't have the presence needed to be threatening. Honestly if it wasn't for his backup support thugs his clock would have been cleaned within the first ten minutes. I know I would have tried to pull that beard off his face and make him eat it while begging for more. The lead thug with the handlebar moustache was far more threatening, and he did all the dirty work anyway. Morris looks more like a crazy cult leader.
This was a solid movie that's (for the most part) well acted, not overly melodramatic and provides the correct amount of action needed to sustain this kind of film. Tripp Reed (Rapid Exchange, Time Under Fire) provided solid direction with no silly camera tricks added to provide a fake polish. It's also not overly long at 90 minutes on the nose. I'm looking forward to checking out the sequel to this - Walking Tall: Lone Justice - which sees Sorbo reprise his role of Nick Prescott also directed by Reed.
A very pleasing and crisp 16:9 transfer with a solid soundtrack, as one would expect from a modern DTV film. There is a refreshing level of film grain, demonstrating that this was not filmed on cheap digital cameras. Runtime 90 minutes.
Quite hard to locate the Australian R4 editions put out by Sony, I found this as a used rental.