Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal, Barry Pepper, Michael Kenneth Williams, Rafi Gavron, Melina Kanakaredes, Nadine Velazquez, Benjamin Bratt and Susan Sarandon
Written by Justin Haythe and Ric Roman Waugh
Directed by Ric Roman Waugh
A desperate father tries to save his teenage son from an unjust prison sentence by infiltrating a dangerous drug cartel in Snitch. The ‘Inspired by real events’ tale features Dwayne Johnson in a much more dramatic performance than the usual action packed extravaganzas we are used to seeing him in. Snitch plays out more slowly and methodically than the commercials and previews would have you believe, but is that a good or a bad thing?
Businessman John Matthews (Johnson) is devastated when his 18-year-old son Jason (Gavron) receives a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence in federal prison. Jason is caught with a package he received from a friend, who set him up, containing illicit drugs. When Jason turns down an offer from politically ambitious U.S. Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Sarandon) to reduce his sentence by manufacturing evidence against someone else, John begs Keeghan to let him go undercover instead. John infiltrates a violent gang led by ruthless drug dealer Malik (Kenneth Williams) but he compromises another innocent man’s (Jon Bernthal) life and family in the process. And when he unexpectedly catches the eye of a major player in the Mexican drug trade (Bratt), the already dangerous venture turns potentially deadly.
Snitch features a simply plotted script, some decent performances and one fantastic beard. Waugh has scripted and directed a pretty solid stripped down film without many twist and turns or even very many bells and whistles. The dialogue works though it’s kept pretty standard and just mainly used to propel the story as opposed to enhance it. Johnson actually shows some good range here in his performance, which should not come as too much of a surprise for those who have been following his career for a long period of time because he has shown versatility may times over, but may pleasantly surprise those only used to his action films. Of the main cast the only one who feels out of place is Kanakaredes as John’s ex-wife, whose presence here results in a role that ultimately becomes a throw away character. On the flip side, Velazquez’s turn as John new wife is a performance that actually begs for more screen time. And the aforementioned fantastic beard award belongs to Barry Pepper’s grizzled DEA agent who sports a serious goatee, and manages to ground the film by bringing to light the severity of John’s actions when everyone else seems to be glossing them over.
The action sequences that are part of the movie are staged very effectively with some good camera work and pacing. The closing sequence includes a highway chase involving some cars and a semi-truck with a full trailer that crashes and bangs across multiple lanes of a freeway with vehicles impressively flying all over the place. The one thing not involved this time around is any physical fighting from Johnson, in fact Dwayne doesn’t punch a single soul, and the one action sequence in Snitch belongs to Bernthal.
The film ends up clocking in just less than two hours and could have been trimmed a bit as some of the exposition and dramatic sections do drag a bit. That said the film still does a decent job, delivering a solid film that while not dazzling in any way does manage to get the job done. There are many other options in theaters right now that are far less entertaining than Snitch. Ultimately Snitch ends up as a mild recommend.
Till Next Time
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