By DAN METCALF
Clipper Film Correspondent
Rated PG-13 for drug content and sequences of violence.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal, Michael Kenneth, Melina Kanakaredes, Nadine Velazquez, Rafi Gavron, David Harbour, Benjamin Bratt, Susan Sarandon.
Written by Justin Haythe and Ric Roman Waugh.
Directed by Ric Roman Waugh.
How far would a father go to save his son from being wrongfully imprisoned? That's the basic premise of Snitch, starring Dwayne (no-longer-”The Rock”) Johnson.
Johnson portrays John Matthews, a successful trucking/construction company owner whose estranged son Jason (Rafi Gavron) is caught up in a DEA drug sting, set up by a friend who lied to the feds about his involvement in trafficking in order to cut a deal. When John finds out the feds are promoting “snitching” as a viable means to curb drug traffic, he meets with the U.S. attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) to plead for his son, who is getting beat up on a regular basis in a federal prison. John cuts a deal with Keeghan to use his business acumen to bring in “bigger fish” drug dealers in order to secure his son's release.
John seeks help from Daniel (Jon Bernthal), one of his employees and an ex-con who served five years for drug trafficking. Daniel is reluctant to get involved, since he is trying to get his life in order, but eventually arranges a meeting between John and Malik (Michael Kenneth Williams), a low-end dealer. John is employed by Malik to use one of his semi trucks to travel to El Paso, Texas and pick up a few kilos of cocaine. John complies, while the feds track his movement to and from the pick-up, where members of a Mexican drug cartel await to load the drugs into John's truck. During the transaction, a band of gunmen from a rival cartel attack. John and Daniel escape, and in so doing help save the original cartel. John's heroic actions impress the cartel's leader Juan Carlos 'El Topo' Pintera (Benjamin Bratt), who hopes to use John's trucks for future exchanges.
Upon his return home, John expects the feds to pick up Malik and the deal will be done, but lead DEA agent Cooper (Barry Pepper) decides he'd rather go after 'El Topo' instead, letting Malik go. John is infuriated with Cooper and Keeghan, but agrees to make one more run transporting hundreds of millions in El Topo's cash back to the border so agents can nab the cartel leader instead.
During the daring cash run, John is betrayed as a government informant, and he must fight the cartel on his own.
Snitch is not a terrible movie, and can be entertaining at times. That said, the movie is mostly caught up in a lot of melodramatic dialogue and low-end action. Snitch might have been better as an episode in an hour-long TV series instead of a full-length theatrical release. While the federal government's war on drugs is interesting, there really isn't much in Snitch that we haven't seen already, much like several episodes of Miami Vice.
As for Dwayne Johnson, he's getting better as an actor, even though his huge frame still eats up most of Snitch's scenes. I suppose he's destined to be an action hero for the rest of his days, but it's good to know he has a little acting range.Snitch's producers claim the story to be “inspired by true events” (which is usually code for “we made up most of this”). While I'm sure many dads would go undercover for the DEA to save their sons, I'm also pretty sure they wouldn't go as far John does in Snitch, so take that “inspired by” with a grain of salt.