Snitch

Snitch is a surprisingly effective movie, mainly because Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson pulls off emotional depth quite well. We already knew he had good comedic timing; now maybe he’s transforming into a very good all-around actor.

Here’s a trailer:

The deets:

Released February 22, 2013

Written by Justin Haythe and Ric Roman Waugh

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh

Starring Susan Sarandon, Melina Kanakaredes, Dwayne Johnson, Rafi Gavron, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal, Benjamin Bratt, Michael K. Williams, and Nadine Velazquez

Rated: PG-13

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Story

John Matthews (Johnson) is a former truck drive who lost his family to the job and is now running a construction transportation company. His teenage son, Jason (Gavron), who has been raised by Matthews’ ex-wife Sylvie (Kanakaredes), was set up by a friend and has been arrested on drug charges. Minimum sentencing laws determine that the young Jason will be in jail for 10 years, unless he helps the DA’s office find other offenders and make arrests.

Except Jason doesn’t actually know anyone in the drug business, since he was set up. Now John has to decide how far he will go to help his mostly innocent son not have to spend 10 years in jail. So John makes a deal with the DA, Joanne Keeghan (Sarandon), that he will infiltrate the local drug dealing cabal and help the DA arrest the local kingpin, a fellow by the name of Malik (Williams). John finds Daniel, a guy with an ugly past who is trying to stay on the straight and narrow for his family, and convinces Daniel to introduce John to Malik so John can make a business proposal.

This goes well and soon John is a part of the business and leads the local vice guy, Cooper (Pepper), to Malik. But there’s a twist: Malik indicates that John might soon interact with the bigger drug cartel’s bosses. This is a catch that Cooper and Keeghan don’t want to pass up a chance at. So if John gets this cartel bigwig, Jason will be immediately released.

All of this sets up a tense final act in which John, who is putting himself and his new family in peril, has to try to outwit the drug cartel as well as a DA’s office that is using him perhaps too loosely.

And with all of this, the Rock, our Mr. Johnson, doesn’t swing even one punch and only fires a gun perhaps five times.

Critique

There’s no doubt that Dwayne Johnson has delivered his most interesting performance with Snitch. He’s got some depth and gets to delve into some emotions beyond wise-cracking muscle-head. He doesn’t get quite to the desperation we ought to be seeing from this guy, with the nuance of not wanting to fail his son like he spent his life doing, but he does pretty well. Happily, the rest of the cast is excellent, with Barry Pepper and Melina Kanakaredes turning in performances that shine. Rafi Gavron as the son, Jason, is convincing as well.

The movie doesn’t have a whole lot of new to offer beyond the Rock acting. That said, one of the nice subplots involves Daniel James, the reforming drug criminal, who is trying to keep his family by living clean but who has an opportunity to take a giant financial step if he helps John.

With the plot fairly workaday and not offering much in the way of surprise, the character building is where this movie really shines. Each person has a history and makes choices that affect what happens. Violence is not glorified but avoided. Brains and determination win the day.

I liked this movie. It’s not stupendous and doesn’t have quite the gritty polish it wanted, but it’s certainly effective and enjoyable.

Content warnings: Some salty language, a few scenes of violence which involve guns.

Writing: 4          Acting: 3.5           Overall: 3.5

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About jared

Jared Garrett works as a writer, the manager of a program development department in the corporate world, and an instructional designer. He is a family man with an adorable, fun, and way-too-smart wife, six silly kids, a new house with an overgrown back yard, seven fish, and a bunch of chickens. He has written fiction, user manuals, SEO copy, radio scripts and textbooks and has won first place in the Mayhew writing contest at BYU and received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. He lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and is currently seeking representation for his myriad completed novels.
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