The string of enjoyable action movies gracing the Silver Screen in this first quarter of 2013, came to a screeching halt with “Snitch”. It’s a good thing star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recaptured the WWE Championship belt last Sunday, because this movie would relegate him to obscurity. The movie is slow, cumbersome and a perfect example of miscasting. In a ruse to fill theatre seats, the trailers for the film are filled with action sequences; however, everything you see in the trailer occurs in the final 15 minutes of the film. The rest is a plodding morass of the wrong people in the wrong roles at the wrong time.
The premise is simple: A father goes to the extreme to help secure his son’s release from jail. There is an entire subtext of a divorce, remarriage and a second family which serves only as a distraction to the plot. The two wives are disposable characters with little or no dramatic impact on the tale despite a plethora of crocodile tears. The other siblings are placed in various shots like knick-knacks on a mantle. The drama would most certainly be elevated if this were one, strong family unit; but then, that doesn’t fit the 3L concept, does it? ,Screenwriter Justin Haythe was probably aware his tale lacked cohesiveness and needed a strong screen presence to make his limpwristed script work. He even resorts to utilizing the mark of death for action films, the sobriquet “Based on true events”.
Enter Casting Director Lindsay Graham and the disaster of “Snitch” is complete. It is simply an affront to the eyes and logical mind, to see a character as massive as The Rock, unable to deal with antagonists half his size. Each passing frame, the preview audience anticipated the raised eyebrow, the iconic “It doesn’t matter what you think!” and an elbow or bodyslam or two. Nana, zilch zip. If “Snitch” needed to be so tied to actual events, The Rock should not be the lead. Matt Damon, Giovanni Ribisi, Don Cheadle or Mark Strong could pull this off with credence.
Two strong supporting actors weasel into the tale. Benjamin Bratt appears as leader of the drug cartel, Juan Carlos 'El Topo' Pintera and Barry Pepper portrays DEA Agent Cooper. “Snitch” would have been better watching a conflict between these two actors, in more acceptable roles. Susan Sarandon, one of Tinseltown’s looniest 3L members, appears as a conservative Prosecuting District Attorney. Talk about miscasting! Her character is obviously painted as a dragon lady crime fighter to be reviled for her tenaciousness and promise breaking. The only solid element of "Snitch" is seeing Shane (Jon Bernthal) back in action. He takes out more bad guys than Rock.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
- NOT REALLY ANY WORTH NOTE.
All told, Director Ric Roman Waugh collects all the necessary ingredients for a solid action film, and simply botches the recipe. There is a non-descript score by Antonio Pinto, a yeoman job of cinematography by Dana Gonzales and a slack job of editing by Jonathan Chibnall as “Snitch” for all its miscues is still 25 minutes too long.
After the screening, I made it home in time to see Timothy Olyphant in “Justified”, one of the best shows on TV. The hour long episode was far more entertaining, and more worthy of the term ‘action’ than “Snitch”.
After a string of enjoyable action films from The Arnold, Sly, Jason Statham and Josh Brolin, it’s a shame The Rock ends the streak.
THE GRADE FOR SNITCH = D
Fiore Mastracci is a former action star and stunt choreographer who now writes film reviews for the Old Action Star Retirement Association (OASRA). He still trains regularly with OASRA’s prominent members.