Directed by Ric Roman Waugh.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal, Susan Sarandon, Barry Pepper, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Kenneth Williams, Melina Kanakaredes and Nadine Velazquez.
A father goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in drug deal.
Since spreading his beefy wings into the acting world, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has steadily worked his way up to become a man capable of bringing in substantial box-office. It’s been a long slog, with a few ups and plenty of downs (most of his child friendly film output). Now it has got to a point that Johnson has become akin to Box office Viagra, lending his presence to big franchises to help boost the takings. The Fast & Furious canon has benefited a hell of a lot from his presence, both in terms of revenue but also the overall quality and enjoyment. Likewise he was bought in to try and turn G.I. Joe: Retaliation into a more bankable franchise (though it didn’t quite come off in that one, though his personality gave the film an edge over its predecessor). His on screen presence is impressive, akin to Stallone and Schwarzenegger in their pomp. He’s not short of charisma either. Of late though, Johnson has also tried to further his range as an actor too. He was very good in Faster. Here in Snitch it’s a less larger than life role, one requiring more humility, more restraint and emotion. The question is; does he pull it off?
Johnson stars as John Matthews a hard working construction business owner whose son gets sentenced to a lengthy prison term for drugs offences. The foolish and naïve victim of a sting, his son Daniel (Jon Bernthal) is ill-equipped to handle life in jail. Master criminal he is not and John can’t stand by and watch his son suffer, and potentially die young, in prison. He persuades the DEA to let him go undercover to try and make more significant arrests and potentially bring down a drugs kingpin in order to get his sons sentence quashed. Apparently the plotline is loosely based in true events. Not so much the part Johnson plays, but more so how some of these arrests are made. That should be taken with a pinch of Hollywood dredged salt of course. There are some lapses in logic and realism at times, but in all the storyline holds interest.
Johnson proves himself adept in his more restrained father figure role. He’s less the cartoon hero/badass that is in other films. While he’s incredibly effective playing guys like Hobbs in the Fast & Furious 6, it’s good to see him play a more grounded character. This was something that Arnold Schwarzenegger often tried and failed at doing, earlier in his career (though kudos for doing so, somewhat in The Last Stand) but Johnson really pulls it off here. He’s good. We’re not talking Laurence Olivier by any means but it’s a change of pace for him, and when it comes down to the nitty gritty of the finale, there’s ample things for him to smash still. The support cast are good with Barry Pepper and Susan Surandon ever reliable, and Bernthal is good as Matthews Junior.
Stuntman turned director Ric Roman Waugh (who also co-wrote) does a solid job. Of course his major forte is in the action sequences but he handles some of the more dramatic moments perfectly fine. There’s some nice action here. There’s nothing as big and pulse pounding as you might see in some of Johnson’s bigger films, but this is a moderately budgeted thriller. The finale car chase is solid, though watching not long after Fast 6 it seems a little uninspired in truth.
In all this is a passable thriller. There’s not much in the way of originality, though it does standout due to possibly Dwayne Johnson’s best performance so far. He has more untapped potential to be more than just charismatic muscle. This may make a nice change of pace from all the CGI heavy blockbusters currently clogging up the cinemas, even if it does feel a little like one for video.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★