Far from being another stereotypical action movie, Snitch at least attempts to tell a different story behind the blasts and bangs as the film attempts to make a serious point about a justice system which gives higher sentences for first time drug offences than it does to people found guilty of rape and assault multiple times
Dwayne Johnson plays John Matthews, a man whose seemingly blissful life is turned upside down when he learns that his estranged son Jason (Rafi Gavron) has been arrested for drug trafficking. In actuality he has been set up by his friend who was looking to reduce his own sentence on similar charges. Jason’s charge carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and he has no information to offer that would reduce his own spell in prison. John uses his connections to meet with a US Attorney (played by Susan Sarandon) who is running an anti-drugs campaign during her attempts to gain election to congress. Rather implausibly she agrees to let John attempt to catch some high-level drug dealers in order to reduce his son’s sentence. (Though it is worth pointing out that this movie is based on a true story, so what do I know?)
The film then follows the twists and turns as John gets dragged deeper and deeper into the drugs cartel , risking his own life in the process whilst trying to save his son’s.
Fans of The Rock’s dumb (and I use that term endearingly) action movies attracted to this by his presence might be disappointed at the relative lack of action throughout. Though he is involved in car chases and the like, he doesn’t hand out a real beating to anyone and this is much more of an “acting” performance that you might expect. Indeed the intention from the director was to show that even someone like The Rock cannot go through life beating up who he likes, when he wants, when one wrong turn condemns his son. Johnson acquits himself well, even if he’s a little slow to get going, and makes you believe in his performance; it’s not going too far to suggest that he puts in a more complete performances than most of the supporting cast.
The problem is that the film itself never really convinces. The balance between the drama and action is a little off and if you’re expecting a flashy dénouement to make up for it you might be disappointed as the climactic action scene is little more than a few crashed cars and gunshots. It’s also a film that never seems to know what it is. Is it an action movie, a suspense thriller or a melodrama? If the film makers had made a choice and gone one route, it might have succeeded at that rather than being a mixture of a number of different types of genres, none of which are quite convincing enough to work in this mix.
Throw in some distinctly wobbly camerawork and you have a movie which never quite gets off the ground. Johnson shows once and for all that he can most certainly act beyond what you’d expect of him, but the story he is given is not one that matches his enthusiasm. It’s stilted in parts and isn’t enough of a success to mean that viewers brought here by Johnson’s action résumé will appreciate it’s serious points.
In terms of extras, the DVD includes a “making of” documentary that lasts nearly 50 minutes. I found it interesting and it helped an understanding of the movie. I have to admit though that I’m not too sure how many people would sit through it all.
– By Matthew Roberts