Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
In this movie 'Snitch', we meet Jason (Rafi Gavron) and he seems like a nice enough kid.  About to head to college, or he might already be there, I can't remember, but his friends are a little suspect.  Say like his friend who called him on his cell phone about some big Meth score he's trying to execute.  Now I'm no major criminal or anything, but calling me on my personal cell phone to setup a drug deal probably isn't the best criminal move.  To Jason's benefit, he didn't even consider this deal.  Good boy.  But when the postman drops off a box from this friend of his and Jason opens it, well, Jason's life is going to change exponentially from that point on.  Sending drugs through the mail?  Also probably not the best criminal move.  Opening boxes from friends who you know ship meth?  You see the issues.  Thanks to mandatory sentencing, Jason will be down for the next ten to twenty.

Jason's estranged father John (Dwayne Johnson), a hard working trucking company owner, might be at odds with Jason and his mom Sylvie (Melina Kankaredes), but he knows his son is a good kid caught in a really bad situation, and there must be something he can do.   So John goes to talk to the local prosecutor Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) who explains unless Jason can roll over on somebody bigger, he's stuck doing the time.  Problem is Jason is no drug dealer so he doesn't know anybody he can roll over on.  It's not looking good for poor Jason.  Not to mention when his old man visits him in lockup, from the looks of Jason's face it looks like soft Jason is somebody's personal whipping boy in the pen, or worse.

John has an idea.  What if he can roll over on somebody?  Use his trucking connections and setup a deal to maybe save his son.  It seems crazy and the prosecutor isn't actually sanctioning this craziness, but if John can make it happen, she'll see what she can do. 
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Fortunately John has a bunch of ex-cons working for him, say like ex-con Daniel (Jon Bernthal) who really just wants to keep his life straight and take care of his wife and young son, but John offers him a sweet deal if he can get him a meet and greet with some less than desirables, so against Daniel's better judgment… note that he's unaware of John's true motivation… he sets it up. 

Now John is officially in the drug moving business, albeit as an informant, and his little foray was a risky one but it seems like it might've done the trick.  Yay!  The boy will be free!  But not so fast!  It looks like there might be a bigger, much more dangerous fish on the line for the authorities to reel in, and while John didn't sign up for that, this is what he's stuck with if he wants to get his son out of prison.  It's not looking good for John pulling this off, and while we all love our children, at some point you have to let them take their medicine, for the greater good of our own personal health.  That's me talking, not John, who will see this thing through to the bitter end.

A few years back, this film's director Rick Roman Waugh helmed a gritty prison drama 'Felon', which I personally thought was fantastic, and probably contained Val Kilmer's last great acting performance.  As of this day at least, because Val isn't dead or anything and is still working.  Now with 'Snitch', also a gritty, hard hitting drama / thriller, Waugh is clearly working a bigger budget and a much bigger scope, but 'Snitch' isn't quite as good as 'Felon' if one is to compare the two films, though 'Snitch' is definitely worthy.

One of the challenges for the director and his star Dwayne Johnson is how do you make The Rock seem 'vulnerable'.  Not emotionally, but physically.  When you have a star whose last fifty roles basically consisted of him being a virtual bulletproof badass, one has to be concerned if Dwayne Johnson has the acting chops to dial down that persona and seem like an average concerned dad.  One that still happens to be 6'4", still weighs an easy 250, and still looks to be cut from stone.  One way you pull this off is by making everybody else around him look meaner.  Seriously though, Michael K. Williams as drug dealer #1 and his crew of miscreants, Barry Pepper as biker DEA agent #1 and his crew of police burnouts, Benjamin Bratt as the chief heavy and the scariest of them all, Susan Sarandon… The Rock seemed positively Clark Kent like next to this rogues gallery of villains.  Plus Johnson has become a good enough an actor to sell us on his emotional vulnerability and the fact that his character doesn't really belong in the circles he's running in.

But where Waugh did a pretty good job of keeping 'Snitch' balanced between some sort of gritty reality and the growing escalation of John's involvement in the drug game, as it nears its conclusion the film apparently had no choice but to buckle under the weight of the Action Film Monster.  You know what the monster does… throws our character in an increasing amount of ridiculous situations usually culminating into some sort of equally ridiculous action sequence, leading to some kind of out of this world conclusion.  That bastard cannot be trusted and when he gets going, he cannot be stopped. 

But what are you gonna do?  Have a character played by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson negotiate a settlement at the end?  I don't think so.  Thus at the end of the day, while 'Snitch' veered wildly out of control as it came to its conclusion, it was still a hard hitting, gritty, tough ride while getting there, which made for a better than average action thriller.
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