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Review: Snitch

Snitch
02.21.2013
8 10

PLOT: After his son is caught in a DEA sting for trafficking drugs, John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson)- desperately cuts a deal with the federal prosecutor (Susan Sarandon), where he’ll go undercover setting up dealers, in exchange for his son’s release.

REVIEW: SNITCH is very atypical for The Rock. Usually, he acts in either hardcore action, or big-budget family movies. SNITCH is certainly not the latter, but neither is it the action flick it’s being positioned as. Directed by Ric Roman Waugh (FELON), SNITCH is an ultra-serious crime thriller where Johnson’s relatable family man is caught up in a nightmare scenario.

His son, a “just-turned eighteen” suburban kid (a delicate-looking Rafi Gavron) is busted for holding a package for his friend. Knowing it was full of drugs, he’s nonetheless way out of his league when he’s slapped with the mandatory minimum law, in which he’s guaranteed a minimum of ten years in jail. Not knowing anyone he can snitch on, he’s in big trouble. There’s a scene early on where Johnson visits his locked up son, who’s been the victim of a severe beating, and is being taunted sexually by another prisoner- while all The Rock- usually an action God, can do is look on in horror. It’s very affecting- and perfectly sets the stage for Johnson’s desperate attempt to get his son out of jail by whatever means necessary.

Usually, I’d say the idea that the DEA is willing to let a suburban dad go undercover in the drug world would be a stretch, but apparently SNITCH is inspired by true events. I have no idea how close the filmmakers stayed to the original story (my guess is not very) - but Waugh’s straight-forward, gritty take on the material makes it seem believable.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is very different in SNITCH than you’d expect. Despite being set in the ultra-violent drug world, don’t expect any major physical action from Johnson- who, in his only physical scrap of the film, actually gets beaten up. The only real action comes in the final act, with a really well-conceived truck-chase/shoot-out that’s like a real-world version of the climax of THE ROAD WARRIOR, and impressive in its lack of CGI.

Johnson also gets a heck of a supporting cast this time out, with Jon Bernthal of THE WALKING DEAD, playing his ex-con employee that he coerces into helping get him into the drug game, making a big impression. Michael Kenneth Williams from THE WIRE (Omar!) shows up as, you guessed it- a drug dealer. Given his menacing look, I suppose he’s been stereotyped, but even still- he brings something different to the part that you won’t appreciate until his final scenes. As the big baddie, we get Benjamin Bratt- as a kind of Gus Fring suburban cartel leader, and with his goatee and glasses, he looks menacing. Speaking of goatees- Barry Pepper spots a crazy, SONS OF ANARCHY-looking one as the sympathetic DEA agent in charge of Johnson’s case- while Susan Sarandon, as the prosecutor, comes off as only slightly less evil than the drug dealers.

Overall, I was really impressed with SNITCH, which surprised me by being a lean and mean thriller, and probably The Rock’s best film to date (outside of FAST FIVE that is). With this, he demonstrates a wider range than I thought he had, and admirably dials it down enough so that it’s easy to accept him as an everyman (even his physique is downplayed- with no shirtless scenes or even short-sleeve shirts). SNITCH is a real gem, and a nice little February sleeper. It’s not off-the-wall action, but it’s thrilling in its own low-key way and highly recommended.

Source: JoBlo.com

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