I feel what The Rock is doing.
Excuse me, make that Dwayne Johnson. After years working his way out of the muck and mire of thankless action films, Johnson gets Snitch, an intelligent, relatively engrossing and compelling flick to show that he can indeed act. Given the subject matter, it’s no small feat.
Johnson has more than a few good moments in this film that’s purportedly based on true events and tackles one of the bigger controversies in the American justice system – that of mandatory minimum sentences for first-time drug offenders.
Johnson delivers in his role as a concerned father whose son is ensnared by the Drug Enforcement Agency. It’s a role that requires a range of emotions, some so powerful they even induce tears. Think about that for a moment. The Rock cries on screen. Given his usual audience that’s a quasi-bold move on his part, but it’s certainly required.
Directed and co-written along with Justin Haythe, Johnson’s John Matthews finds himself having to go out on a limb for his estranged son Jason (Rafi Gavron) who took delivery of ecstasy tablets at his home not realizing that his alleged best friend has set him up.
With first time offenders, the DEA turns them out like street walkers forcing them to deliver other dealers for a reduced sentence. In Jason’s case, his friend uses him as a sacrificial lamb. He had no plans to help sell the pills, but he’s busted anyway.
John shows up worried and having to deal with his temperamental ex-wife (played by Akron’s Melina Kanakaredes). He wants Jason to set someone up, but his son refuses.
Dad comes up with a plan of his own. With the help of an employee in his construction company, he gets an introduction to a local low level drug dealer. He makes an agreement with a federal attorney (Susan Sarandon) with political aspirations to help bust the dealer in exchange for a reduced sentence for Jason.
He delivers his side of the bargain, but the attorney gets other ideas after John inadvertently draws the attention of one of the head honchos in a Mexican drug cartel. The government wants John to go after the bigger fish and he has no option other than to do as instructed.
Snitch could have easily devolved into a run-of-the-mill, formulaic action flick. Instead it holds true to the script, dealing with the subject matter without getting too preachy.
Of course, Johnson’s performance only helps and his teaming with Jon Bernthal, who portrays his employee Daniel, adds that much more to the movie. Bernthal possesses charisma and an earnest nature that work well together.
Waugh’s direction is confident and the few action scenes that appear in the film add just enough adrenalin to the festivities.
Oscar material? No. But on Oscar weekend Snitch is the most worthy diversion this weekend.
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon,
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Rated: PG-13 (drug content and sequences of violence)
Running time: 112 minutes
George’s rating: 3-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com