Dwayne Johnson is not a name most people recognize. It’s surprising though, considering his alter ego “The Rock” has about a billion fans. Personally, that’s what I will always know him as. Since the mid 90’s, he’s been slapping jabronis around and people continue to eat it up. Since making his move from wrestling into mainstream film, Dwayne Johnson has only gotten more popular. His debut in The Scorpion King showed he has what it takes to be an action star but he continues to evolve. So far he has about five films scheduled to debut this year including Snitch, and each role would be considered challenging for any action star. This film, however, delivers more drama than typically shown from Johnson and has the potential to be very interesting for many audiences.
Snitch is a father’s story. Snitch is also a true story. It tells the story of John Matthews, played by Dwayne Johnson. John Matthews obviously doesn’t have a perfect life. It’s comfortable at the moment enough for anyone, but throughout the film you learn his biggest regret is not being there for his son Jason. Despite that fact, Jason (Rafi Gavron, 24) is still a pretty decent guy. He just happens to have really bad friends. Jason’s friend deals drugs and asks if he can ship a package to Jason’s house. Jason knows this is a bad idea and says no. Surprise, surprise, his friend sends it anyway and being a friend Jason accepts the package. This is where trouble really starts for Jason. The package is a trap by the DEA in order to catch drug traffickers. Jason is arrested and due to harsh drug dealing laws is forced to face a minimum sentence of 10 years or set up other drug affiliates the same way. He refuses. This is where The Rock comes to the rescue. Matthews seeks out Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon, Cloud Atlas), a prosecuting attorney, in order to cut a deal for Jason’s release. After joining up with an employee, Daniel James(Jon Bernthal, The Walking Dead), the team becomes connected with a drug dealer named Malik (Michael Kenneth Williams, The Road), but it isn’t until he becomes connected to a drug lord named “El Topo”(Benjamin Bratt, Law and Order) that Keeghan really begins to take Matthews seriously. Guided by Agent Cooper (Barry Pepper, The Green Mile), Matthews sets out to bring them all down and rescue his son from prison.
What surprised me the most about this film is Dwayne Johnson’s ability to become a dramatic actor nearly overnight. He’s actually really good. Like really, really good. I expected the same ass kickery that he produces from most of his previous films. However, in this film he really proves he has what it takes to portray a heartbroken man willing to put everything he has on the line for his son. It’s a heart breaking story. The truth is that anyone who went to high school or college could probably point out at least a few people whom they hung around with that more than likely had drugs on them at one time or another. Jason’s problem is one we can all see ourselves falling victim to. This relatable fact makes the audience feel really bad for the stupid kid. It’s a seemingly innocent task to accept a package, but no one really equates accepting a package to ten years in prison. Truthfully, we sympathize.
However, the story is really about Matthew’s character and what he learns from the stupid kid that makes this film what it is. Johnson does an incredible job of portraying the seriousness in his role. A key factor in the father/son relationship is that John Matthews is divorced from Jason’s mother. You can feel the disconnection between the families and watch it change as Matthews seeks out a way to help Jason. Matthews is intent on being there for his son even at a pivotal point when Jason questions why he was never there before. I was rather impressed.
While I was impressed with Johnson’s ability to cry on cue, the story still felt like I was watching one of those routine cop dramas. BUM BUM… The script writing left no one guessing. It’s not hard to predict what happens with the routine smoke and mirror writing from scene to scene. The car crashes are respectable, and I liked how only one car exploded. No need to overdo things.
I still think the real grit to Snitch is what isn’t said but how. Another interesting aspect is the definition of the word “snitch” and its associated meaning. Normally a snitch is someone you don’t want to be, someone you can’t trust. Judging from Matthews determination and balls, a snitch is also something you don’t want to mess with. Dare I say even a hero. In the end, I liked this film.
I give Snitch 3.5 “Rolled up Sleeves” out of 5.
by Jason Burleson