Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Jon Bernthal, Melina Kanakaredes
Sassi’s Star Rating: 3/5
The Rock takes a serious turn as a father who would do anything for his son in the new action/drama Snitch. It’s a smart departure for the guy who if you look at his release schedule, seems to be the hardest working man in Hollywood at the moment. Somewhere between WWF SmackDown! and Fast and the Furious 6 he has really honed his ability to deliver a good performance. With Snitch, Johnson proves his acting chops and flips the bird (figuratively offcourse) to all of his deriders.
When the son of self-made businessman John (Johnson) and his estranged wife Sylvie (Melina Kanakaredes) is arrested for possession of narcotics with intent to distribute, both are shocked. Jason (Rafi Gavron) is a good kid who has always run with a good crowd. But having signed for a package from a friend which turned out to be filled with methamphetamines, Jason is facing a minimum ten year gaol sentence – unless he snitches to the cops and helps them make another drug arrest.
Not knowing any dealers, and refusing to set anyone up the way his friend did him, Jason refuses to co-operate with police. Luckily his father just happens to be one of the toughest men in show business and he strikes a deal with the politically ambitious District Attorney (Susan Sarandon) to bring down a major drug player in return for leniency on his son’s sentence.
Written and directed by a former stuntman, and staring a pro-wrestler, you might expect all bang and no buck from this film. Instead what you get is an action filled drama rather than a drama filled action. Snitch is a slow burner and I mean that in the best kind of way. The premise is a difficult one to get past audience members so Waugh smartly spends his time kneading the concept into credibility. An unglamorous look at the drug underground and the system struggling to combat it, Snitch carefully piles on the tension so when those action sequences do come, they really explode.
The titles will tell you that this is a true story – but I initially thought marketers might have found a better strategy in leaving the whole thing off and just letting the audience go with the flow of the film instead of prompting them try and figure out in what world a US DA would ever support a civilian undercover operation to infiltrate drug cartels in exchange for his son’s freedom. Turns out it’s in this world those events would happen – the true story claim is a real one, as chronicled the PBS Frontline special which inspired this script to be written. It’s an unsettling feeling when real life is stranger then fiction. Waugh and other writer Haythe’s treatment of the incredible story that has laid the groundwork for this film really works brings to the forefront just how out of control the war on drugs has become.
Snitch also raises interesting questions about why the minimum sentence for first time drug offenders is less than that of rapists or murderers, and whether ‘snitching’ laws are targeting the right kind of criminal. It may be deafeningly clear which side of the fence this film sits on but it cannot be said that it doesn’t give you food for thought.
All in all Snitch boasts a solid cast and entertaining direction. I would have liked to have seen more of Benjamin Bratt who is engaging as Mexican cartel boss El Topo but isn’t given enough screen time to really play it out. Also good are Jon Bernthal as the ex-crim that reluctantly gets drawn back into the game, and Michael Kenneth Williams playing intimidating middleweight drug boss Malik.
An entertaining film rooted in a compelling story and a solid performance from The Rock, Snitch is worth a trip to see on the big screen.
In cinemas now.
Category: Film & TV