The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Snitch | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Snitch

A father takes desperate measures to have his son's prison sentence reduced.

Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal, Susan Sarandon, Barry Pepper, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nadine Velazquez, Benjamin Bratt, Rafi Gavron

Teenager Jason Matthews (Gavron) is set up by a friend who mails him a box of illegal drugs. After his arrest for drug-dealing, Jason receives the minimum sentence of 10 years. The only way it can be reduced is if he can provide information leading to the arrest of another dealer. With Jason unwilling to set anyone up in this way, his father, John (Johnson), decides to do it for him, following a discussion with Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Sarandon). Using an ex-con, Daniel (Bernthal), who works the yard at his construction company, for an introduction, John is hired by local dealer Malik (Williams) to transport drugs using his fleet of trucks. When a Mexican cartel arrives on the scene, John realizes he's in a lot deeper than he planned.
Forget what you've been led to believe by 'Snitch's marketing department, this is not your average Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson brain-dead action flick. Based on true events, Waugh's film is a thinly-veiled condemnation of America's puritanical drug laws. A post-movie card informs us the average sentence for "Possession with intent to distribute" is longer than the average sentence handed down for rape, child molestation and manslaughter. The most interesting aspect of 'Snitch', however, is its examination of how those with power manipulate those on the lower rungs of the social ladder. The film's protagonist, John, is something of a twisted figure. Early on he encourages his son to frame one of his classmates and almost destroys the life of his ex-con employee by bribing him with a sum of money he knows the struggling father can't afford to turn down.
If there's a hero in 'Snitch' it's Daniel, the ex-dealer trying to lead a straight life but conned into helping John with his out-of-depth plan. He becomes a pawn in a game played out by people for whom money is no object, torn between the middle-class solipsism of John, and the manipulative ruthlessness of the Mexican cartel. The role of John is one you might have expected Harrison Ford to portray 20 years ago: the everyman resorting to desperate measures to protect his family. It's a testament to how far Johnson has progressed as an actor that he pulls it off. Despite his imposing frame, we genuinely believe his fear when confronted by the murky world he's entered. Pepper is also great in a supporting role as a DEA agent who looks and sounds like a young Willie Nelson. TV heart-throb Bratt is unrecognizable as a Mexican drug-lord.
The script rambles a little too much and contains the odd minor plot-hole, but for a movie headlined by an ex-wrestler, 'Snitch' is more intelligent than you'd expect.

Eric Hillis