Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made the transition from wrestling to film roughly a decade ago, with films like The Scorpion King and The Rundown. In The Rundown the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger made a brief cameo where he wished Johnson “Good luck,” in a sort of passing the torch moment. The Rundown is an extremely underrated film, and one of Johnson’s best, and while the film didn’t catch fire, it was clear that The Rock had the skills to become a big time player in Hollywood – which is exactly what he is today.
With Snitch, Johnson takes on the leading role of a father who will do anything to help his son. It’s a mix of drama, action and suspense, and it’s just one of many recent productions that sees Johnson front and center and he once again proves that’s right where he belongs. Johnson has a natural charisma that is near unmatched when he’s on the screen, and it’s that same charisma that helps elevate Snitch a notch.
Johnson stars as John Matthews, the owner of a successful construction/trucking company who lives in a beautiful house with his wife and daughter. While his life is going well at the moment, his son Jason (Rafi Gavron), from a previous marriage, is headed in the opposite direction. After accepting a shipment of drugs from a friend who asked Jason to hold them until he arrived, Jason is arrested for being a drug dealer after his friend (who was picked up by police when he mailed the package) set him up.
With Jason facing 10 years in prison due to the mandatory minimum sentencing laws, his father goes to district attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) and asks what he can do to help lower his son’s sentence. Keeghan has a firm hand when it comes to drug dealers; however, John assures her that his son is innocent. What Keeghan needs are more arrests in order to lower Jason’s sentence, so John takes it upon himself to go undercover and get some names for Keeghan. What John isn’t prepared for is just how deep he’ll have to go, and how dangerous the task at hand truly is.
The film is based off a true story that was on Frontline a ways back where a father made a deal with the district attorney and then went undercover into the drug world in order to help reduce his son’s sentence. With that story as the basis, co-writer/director Ric Roman Waugh (Justin Haythe also co-wrote the film) was able to craft a solid and thoroughly entertaining thriller that’s actually quite suspenseful – even if you’re never really on the edge of your seat. This isn’t the first time Waugh has successfully mixed dramatic elements with that of a thriller, as he’s proven to be quite the storyteller with his critically acclaimed film Felon back in 2008.
What’s great about Snitch is how real is feels. That’s what Waugh was looking for, and he succeeded. Even with an intimidating action star like Johnson in the lead, we still feel he’s vulnerable and in over his head for most of the film. There’s also no over-the-top explosions, or endless amounts of ammo. Everything that happens is set in reality, and that’s what helps the tension mount throughout.
Fans of The Walking Dead will recognize the film’s supporting actor John Bernthal, who played Shayne. Here he plays one of John’s employees who also has two strikes for drug trafficking. It’s through his connections that John is able to go undercover, so the two are joined at the hip from midway through the film on. They’ve got some great chemistry, and Bernthal really does a great job as someone who’s pulled back into a world he’s been trying to escape.
Snitch is one of those nice films that delivers exactly what you expect from it. While some may feel it’s a bit light on action, that’s not the main goal here. There’s a build of tension that’s released perfectly throughout. While it’s not entirely unpredictable, there’s still this constant sense of uncertainty, which helps keep things interesting from start to finish.
If you’re a fan of Dwayne Johnson, then seeing Snitch is a no-brainer, as he gives a fantastic performance and continues to solidify his status as a go-to leading man. For those who don’t choose their films based on the actors involved, well, Snitch isn’t a film that will blow you away; it’s a film that will entertain for two hours and sometimes that’s all that matters.
The video transfer here is really well done. The colours are rich, while there’s a bit of a cool feel to everything, keeping it real albeit subtly. The audio is also great, with the dialogue coming through clearly, and the sound mix coming together nicely.
Privileged Information: The Making of Snitch – This feature as a whole runs at just under 50 minutes in length. It can be broken into segments; however, it’s actually a well paced, nicely put together piece as a whole – which is how I recommend it be watched. All the people you want to hear from are here, giving insight about how the film came to be, some behind-the-scenes location shoots as well as how they discovered the source material.
Audio-commentary with Director Ric Roman Waugh and Editor Jonathan Chibnall – Both of these guys know their stuff and give an entertaining commentary here. Chibnall has a lot of insight on how to put a film together, where cuts need to be made, and how to pace things properly; while Waugh is a former stuntman turned acclaimed storyteller who gives out some great pieces of information throughout.
Deleted Scenes – There are four deleted scenes that run at roughly five minutes altogether. There’s nothing really to see here, with the biggest cut being some backstory to Jason that really wasn’t needed. Smart cuts for a much better pacing.
Snitch is a film that will satisfy your craving if you’re seeking out an entertaining thriller. It never steps into the realm of can’t miss, or unforgettable; however, it delivers the goods where it matters and because of that it’s definitely recommended for fans of Johnson, and or those interested the subject matter.
Exclusive Media and Participant Media Present Snitch. Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh. Written by: Justin Haythe and Ric Roman Waugh. Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal, Barry Pepper, Susan Sarandon, Rafi Sarandon, Michael Kenneth Williams, Benjamin Bratt. Running time: 112 minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: June 11, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.