Chris Vaughn (The Rock), a retired US Special Forces soldier has returned to make a new life for himself. Slipping back into town unannounced, Chris is shocked and saddened by what he sees. His beloved town has been ravaged by poverty and corruption, its vital lumber mill is closed, and a crime-ridden casino is now the town’s biggest employer.
It seems Chris’s well-heeled high school rival, Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough), has become the new robber baron of Ferguson, Washington. His wealth and influence have allowed him to open the casino, a gambling mecca called the Wild Cherry. Even Chris’s high school girlfriend, Deni (Ashley Scott) is one of the casino employees; she dances there as a stripper.
Upon Chris’s return, he and some old friends, including best friend Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville), visit the Wild Cherry on Jay’s “good will” invitation. But Chris discovers cheating at the craps tables, and a fight erupts with Hamilton’s security guards that ultimately leaves Chris overpowered, savagely beaten, and left for dead.
Chris’s family plead for him to leave things as they are. But Chris is a man who won’t back down. He decides to run for sheriff and rid his hometown of crime with the law as his main weapon. With Ray as his deputy, Chris sets out to clean up the mess Hamilton has made. Now Sheriff Chris Vaughn, he wields a huge stick fashioned from lumber mill pine. He’s one man against many – but he is Walking Tall.