Throughout the years, many athletes have tried the motion picture crossover route. The legendary Joe Namath gave it a go. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a renowned body-builder before he started terminating. Heck, even Michael Jordan gave the silver screen a try, pairing his talents with Bugs Bunny and his friends in SPACE JAM. But Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson appears to have some staying power, as well as a willingness to try something different. He attached himself to THE MUMMY franchise in the beginning, and he’s even dabbled in big screen comedy by way of Walt Disney. In SNITCH, he’s an older, wiser father figure who’ll stop at nothing to see that his son gets a fair shake.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
John Matthews (played by the reliable Dwayne Johnson) is living the dream: he’s managed to turn his former day job as a long-haul trucker into an impressive construction/shipping business. However, when his son gets caught up inadvertently in a DEA drug sting, he’ll risk his family, his livelihood, and his life in order to set things right by cooperating with a powerful state’s attorney (Susan Sarandon in a curious short role, almost a cameo) in order to take down a powerful drug cartel.
Unfortunately, the premise sounds more exciting that SNITCH ever adds up to, but that isn’t for the ‘want’ of trying. The script – written by Justin Haythe (a relative newcomer) and director Ric Roman Waugh (a relative newcomer to directing, as his background on IMDB appears primarily to be stuntwork) – never eclipsed a solid ‘After School Special’ feel with Daddy Dearest willing to ‘go the distance’ for his son rightly accused but perhaps wrongly prosecuted. It feels very much like it was all crafted to be a star vehicle for Johnson; if that’s the case, they should’ve given it more teeth.
On the silver screen, Johnson has always been an admirable property. He’s blessed with a ‘big guy’ swagger that’s equal parts machismo and lovable. It isn’t hard to see him in this role. He plays the father figure with great ease – no doubt his athletic background has given him ample exposure to kids – and he even attacks much of the story’s greater conflicts (grappling with the complexities of a flawed legal system, managing to juggle one failed marriage alongside his new wife and child, etc.); if so many secondary characters didn’t appear to be ‘just showing up’ for their paychecks, maybe this smart little film would’ve had a bigger pay-off. As it is, Susan Sarandon tries to chew screen in a legal role that mostly escapes her, and TV’s stalwart Melinda Kanakarades glides from one distraught scene to the next.
Still, I’ll give props here to Johnson. With his track record at the box office, it’d be easy for him to coast in one flick after another that simply applied the same formula, then rinsed, then spun, then repeated. Instead, he continues to search out one property after another that’s a bit different than the last; it’ll no doubt make him a better thespian in the long run.
SNITCH is produced by Summit Entertainment, Exclusive Media Group, Participant Media, Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, Front Street Productions, and Spitfire Pictures. DVD distribution is being handled through Summit Entertainment. As for the technical specifications, the picture looks and sounds remarkable; director Waugh’s stunt background clearly adds much to the action finish, but much of the rest of the picture feels a bit routine. As for the special features, there’s a respectable handful on the disc: an audio commentary from the writer(s)/director, a making-of short, some deleted scenes, and the theatrical trailer.
RECOMMENDED. SNITCH doesn’t really keep any secrets. It ain’t awful; it’s an admirable attempt to give the always charismatic Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson something a bit different to do, which means it may not please his established fans nor woo many new ones to his career. Unfortunately, SNITCH never rises much above the ‘After School Special’ quality of the storytelling with some predictable developments and performances. ‘The Rock’ deserved better, but he brought his A game to this B script.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Summit Entertainment provided me with an advance DVD copy of SNITCH by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
Promoted as a “based on true events” movie, “Snitch” is actually a fictional film based on what the U.S. government has in place as policies when dealing with drug dealers. Being a ‘snitch’ allows a reduction in sentence that such a thing had become a part on its war on drugs. That said, “Snitch” is a movie that is simple, but then that is what made it effective. It does not over-reach and keeps its focus on Matthews (Dwayne … more