Would you really call the People’s Champ “a snitch” to his face. Think about it and choose your words wisely, ya jabroni.
A suburban father (Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock) decides to risk everything and go undercover as an informant in order to help the authorities build a case against a high-ranking drug dealer. Why does he do this? Well, because he’s the greatest daddy ever apparently and just wants to reduce his son’s 30 year mandatory drug sentence. If that doesn’t scream “Daddy of the Year Award”, I don’t know what the hell will.
As we reach the end of February, therefore it means that the Hollywood production companies are going to start throwing more and more crap at us, up-until the Summer hits and they’ll be throwing more crap at us, except with the cool breeze of Summer in the air. With that being said, SNITCH was definitely nowhere near my must-see, but surprise, surprise! It ain’t half-bad as I was expecting it to be, except just a little dumb. Just a little.
The fact that SNITCH is based off a true story, definitely gives it some lee-way in terms of what it can and cannot do with it’s story, and still make it seem believable. For instance, the whole idea that the DEA would be willing to actually allow this suburban-daddy to get involved with this drug world, in order to thrown some prime-time players in jail, definitely seems like a bit of a stretch, even for a movie starring The Rock (yes, that T is still capitalized). However, this movie isn’t all about the facts, it ain’t all about the truth, and it ain’t even all about the fun. It’s surprisingly about the story and what a simple premise can do, when you give it a simple and normal-look.
Director Ric Roman Waugh did a similar-film like this a couple of years ago called Felon, where he took a regular, everyday man and put him into an atmosphere he has never been involved with ever before. That movie was pretty damn good, and even though SNITCH doesn’t reach the heights of that, it still has the same look, feel, and emotions going-on. For example, instead of making this movie all about the guns, the drugs, the violence, and the action that usually happens in these movies where people get involved with the underground world of drug-trading, we actually get a story that means something here. You know, a story with real and heartfelt emotions.
The fact that this movie is being advertised as another, slam-bang action-thriller in the same vein as Faster or the Rundown, is a real sin. Because once you get past the fact that you aren’t going to see blood, bullets, and octane (Joe Carnahan has nothing to do with this movie, but it’s still pretty cool to say) the whole-time, then you can actually enjoy this movie and see where it’s going with itself. The movie gives it’s story more meaning by setting itself up, showing us the characters, who we are dealing with, and what’s really at-stake here. Yeah, it does seem a little obvious at-times, but the movie is about showing the connection these people have when there’s a shit-load on-the-line.
I’ll never go so far as to say that this movie touches on a lot of emotional truths and hardships that’s going to make the insides of you weep for a hug, but I will say that it will surprise you with where it goes, and how it gets there. Waugh is about giving us characters we care for and can believe in, and that’s ahead of all of the foolery of the violence we expect from this cast and crew. If there is any credit I have to give to Waugh, it’s that he took the higher-road and decided to give us more substance, than we usually expect from movies like this. You care for these people, you care for this story, and ultimately, you care for this movie. That is, up until the movie starts to lose itself and get all action-y. I mean, come on! Did you really think they were going to have people hugging, crying, and kissing each other for the whole 2 hours? Hell no!!
When the action gets introduced into the story, it feels forced which was unexpected because the movie actually built-up a nice amount of suspense and tension throughout. The movie makes you feel like some real and crazy shit is going to happen any time now, and in a way, it does, but it doesn’t feel legitimate. It feels like the film makers of this movie saw the final-cut, and decided that there needed to be more action, more explosions, and more guns involved, so all of the dudes that went-out to go and see this Dwayne Johnson flick, wouldn’t start to question their sexuality. That idea is so cynical, but for Hollywood, it’s just money baby. That’s what bothered the most about this flick and it seemed like if they kept it a real, near, and dear drama the whole-way through, did a couple of cuts, and re-cast some people, then they would have really had a keeper here. Instead, they decided to take the low-road and stay with the cast, stay with the original-cuts, and keep some of the drama in, but mostly action as well. Hey, some of it works, some of it doesn’t. In today’s day and age, you got to take what you can get.
Now, here I come to the saddest-part of my whole review: The Rock. Yes, I know he’s Dwayne Johnson, I know he wants to be taken seriously, and I know he’s trying so damn hard to shine away from his wrestling-days (even though he was just recently the champ, I think), but he will always and forever be The Rock to me. He’s one of, if not, my favorite wrestler of all-time and just has the look, the charm, and the personality to make any movie he does work. That’s why it comes as such a surprise to me to see that the guy isn’t anything really special here, and sort of came-off like a bit of a miscast problem.
Don’t get me mistaken, The Rock is mostly good in this movie. He has a dramatic-range that is surprising and can actually cool himself down when he needs to let the drama and the story take a hold (pun intended), but he seems to be trying too hard as well. There’s a lot of scenes that seem like they call on him to just be use his expressive-eyes and facial-expressions to give the motives of this character more meaning than they should have, and seems like he’s over-emoting. His line-reading isn’t bad, but it does leave a lot to be desired, especially when you think about how bulky and scary his character is. I get that he doesn’t want to be playing his usual, bad-ass type of role where he kicks people’s asses, does The Rock Bottom, and throws his arm-band out at the crowd (still haven’t grabbed one of them yet), but he feels out-of-place here. He tries to play wimpy, he tries to play the family-man, and he tries to play innocent, but the guy looks just too scary and intimidating to really be construed as that. When a guy comes at him, he’s actually scared. The Rock that I know, The Rock that I love, and The Rock that I believe in, would layeth downeth the Smackdowneth on that person’s candy ass and not just stand there in fear. Come on Rocky! There’s so much more to you than this. I know it.
But where The Rock loses, everybody else succeeds. The main reason why I was looking forward to this movie as much as I actually was, was because of Jon Bernthal and seeing what he could do outside of Shane from the Walking Dead. Thankfully, the guy delivers and shows us that he can play a nice, civilized, family-man that may have a bit of a history, but still wants to do the right thing. Bernthal can play that sick, sinister-type oh so damn well, but when he has to come back down to Earth and keep it real; he’s still very believable and makes you feel more for this guy, than you do for Rock’s character. I can tell that if there is anybody from the Walking Dead that’s going to have a shinier career, it’s this dude and I can’t wait to see what he has in-store for us next.
Everybody else is pretty damn good as well. Michael Kenneth Williams is, as you would expect, playing a drug-dealer that smokes, deals, and kills for a living. But also a bit more to him than you’d expect, and the last couple of scenes we get with him is where I was really shocked at the type of dimensions this movie was able to explore, especially for such conventional-characters like “the black drug-dealer”. Benjamin Bratt feels underused and a bit stupid as the head of the Mexican cartel, but still does what he can with material such as this; Barry Pepper shows up in his ZZ Top get-up, is very sympathetic, very bad-ass, but also very believable and does his best at making us all forget about Broken City and how he had the disprivilege of ever touching that crap; and last, but sure as hell not least, is Susan Sarandon as the prosecutor that’s only slightly-less evil than half of the drug-dealers that she’s trying to arrest, but still revels in the material and in a way: fits her like a glove. A firm, lovely glove that I wish I helped her put on. Rawr!
Consensus: Believe it or not, the only real reason why Snitch isn’t as good as it should be, is because of the very same thing that the movie advertises itself as: a thriller. A thriller with guns, action, blood, guts, drugs, and crime is not what this movie’s all about; it’s more about the characters, what they’re going through, what they have to do, and how they can all come out of this problem alive, well, and prosperous for the future. Okay, maybe it’s not that in-depth, but it still is a lot more-developed than any other action-thriller that’s come out this year so far.
6.5 out of 10 – Rental
This review originally hit the web at Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews.