Snitch Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Snitch Review

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?

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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

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.

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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.

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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

Movie Junkie TO

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The Walking Dead Season 2 DVD Review (Kirk Haviland)

The Walking Dead Season 2

Starring Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Norman Reedus, Steven  Yuen, Chandler Riggs, Lauren Cohan, Melissa McBride, Jeffrey DeMunn, IronE Singleton with Pruitt Taylor Vince and Scott Wilson

Created by Robert Kirkman and Frank Darabont

One of the hottest shows on television today, out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week from AMC and Anchor Bay Entertainment is The Walking Dead Season 2. With all the behind the scenes turmoil involving the release of co-creator Frank Darabont mid-season as show runner, many people wondered if the show would suffer in quality because of his departure. Fortunately the second season proves that the dead are still running strong.

Starting perched on a lonely rooftop, walkie talkie in hand, Rick Grimes (Lincoln) recaps briefly the recent events from the final episodes of Season 1 over the device, aimed at reaching the man who helped him back in season 1 episode 1, Morgan. This leads us into a fragmented season 2 as it is split into two parts, separated by two months in its original network airing, the first-half focused on the children of the group and the last dealing with the resolution of the Shane (Bernthal) storyline. As the group leaves the remains of the CDC they run into a herd of the dead causing the group to lose Sophia (Madison Lintz) as she runs off petrified into the woods, Rick in chase. Rick draws off some walkers from Sophia’s trail, but ends up losing her in the process. During the preliminary efforts to find Sophia, Rick’s son Carl (Riggs) suffers a horrible accident that takes Rick and company to the farm of Hershel Greene (Wilson) for help. The crowd is temporarily segmented as Lori (Calles) joins Rick, Shane and Hershel’s clan in caring for Carl while Dale (DeMunn), Andrea (Holden), Darryl (Reedus), Glenn (Yeun) Carol (McBride) and T-Dog (Singleton) are left roadside looking for Sophia. Needing medical supplies to treat Carl, Shane and Otis (Vince) take off to an overrun Fema shelter while time becomes of the essence for Carl’s survival. The rest of the group slowly reconvene at the farm, while still sending out search parties for Sophia, and Glenn develops a relationship with the attractive farmer’s daughter Maggie (Cohan). Debate sparks over the treatment of the walkers and how long the group will be allowed to stay, as Hershel does not agree with Rick and the rest of his group, all the way up to the shocking mid-season finale.

The second-half of the season deals more with Shane’s descent into madness as Lori unveils a life altering secret that forces him over the edge. After Rick, Hershel and Glenn have a nasty encounter with some other survivors, Hershel begins to see Rick’s point of view and realizes correctly that the humans left are just as dangerous if not more than the walker’s presence. The season ends with members of the group not surviving, as the show proves yet again no one cast member is safe, and the farm becomes overrun. The group starts again on the road looking for salvation, with Andrea separated from the rest of the group desperately struggling to survive. We are also introduced to a pivotal new character from the original book series that fans have been clamoring for.

The Walking Dead features some of, if not the best, writing on television. Suspenseful and filled with dread, the scripts aim to tell stories and develop characters rather than just apply jump scares and gore all over the place. Many complained about the slow burn of the season with the Sophia storyline playing out over the first seven episodes and the drawn out story of Shane over the last five before the action packed finale. That said, both stories play out much more satisfying the second time around when you know where they are headed as many little nuances in the script and performances come to light when you know how they will play out later. This style of intelligent writing has been evident since the beginning, and since the original material of Kirkman’s Graphic Novel series is so ripe with carefully written material to begin with, it begs to be tapped into.

On top of the writing, the show has brought together one of the strongest ensemble casts on television. With many Darabont regulars like Holden and DeMunn supporting our leads Lincoln, Bernthal and Callies, the supporting cast may actually be the strongest part of the show. DeMunn’s Dale is the conscience of the group and Shane does not fool him for a second. Holden’s Andrea transforms from suicidal and ready to give up to a fiercely determined deadly soldier in the groups ranks. The Rick/Lori/Shane triangle is resolved and Lincoln’s Rick evolves as an even stronger leader as Bernthal’s Shane proves exactly why he shouldn’t be in charge of anything during the mid-season finale. Wilson is a welcome addition to the cast as his Hershel provides both a companionship to Rick as well as an adversary. Eventually and begrudgingly Hershel comes to see that Rick is correct. Wilson’s performance lends gravitas and a seasoned presence that is welcomed to the show and will be welcomed in the new season considering the loss of one character in particular.

The effects from Greg Nicotero and crew are top notch. Most studio film productions can’t compare to the effects work being put forward here. This helps lend to the overall cinematic feel of the show.

The disc is loaded with extras as we get over an hour of behind the scenes featurettes, all of which are well done and interesting to watch. We get five episodes with commentaries from writers, directors, producers and cast, and while they can be dry in tone they are full of information. Deleted scenes from eight of the episodes are also included here along with all of the segments, including commentary by director Nicotero, of the six-part web series based on one of the series’ most iconic walkers. All in all, the DVD/Blu-Ray provides a great set of behind the scenes footage.

Is the Walking Dead Season 2 worth the price? You better believe it is. The Walking Dead Season 2 is a MUST OWN.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films and festivals in Toronto, as well as our expanding Home Video coverage.

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Contact me at moviejunkieto@gmail.com

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