Twitter Plot Summary: After his son is arrested for drug trafficking, The Rock goes undercover for the Feds to take down the gang responsible.
Five Point Summary:
1. It’s a bust!
2. That chap who was in The Walking Dead wearing a hoodie…
3. Nice goatee, Mr Drug Baron.
4. Playing both sides against each other.
5. Truck driving action.
Snitch was a film that seems to pass UK cinemas by when it was released last year. We had the trailer repeated seemingly on loop in every vaguely related screening imaginable, but when the release date finally came the film didn’t get a wide release and it subsequently passed most people by. In hindsight it’s easy to see why it received such a limited release. Despite starring a big name action hero in the form of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, it’s an inherently low budget movie that’s better suited as a direct to DVD release rather than requiring a big screen appearance.
That’s not to say it isn’t good, however. Unlike the implication from the trailers, this is not an all action extravaganza – that only kicks in right at the end of the final act. The 90 minutes that precedes this slightly less than impressive finale is focused mostly on being a taught thriller and doing a far better job of it than the likes of last year’s Fire With Fire or Nicolas Cage’s Stolen.
The Rock does what he does best as construction company owner John Matthews – that is to be entirely engaging and a surprisingly enjoyable actor despite his origins in American Football and, later, professional wrestling. The guy could read the phone book and still be ridiculously charismatic, and that continues in this role as a father who goes undercover for the DEA in order to reduce his son’s prison sentence after said son was unwittingly set up in a drugs deal.
Jon Bernthal is no slouch as one of The Rock’s employees who has links to the criminal underworld to which The Rock is hoping to be introduced to, you can clearly see him trying to keep the more unsavoury aspects of his personality under control. The supporting cast are rounded off rather well by Barry Pepper and Susan Sarandon as the DEA agents supporting Matthews, and Benjamin Bratt as the drug kingpin who sits at the top of the chain.
Family forms the backbone of the entire narrative, and the story isn’t in any rush to move away from these aspects in favour of some big explosions or something along those lines. Matthews has a broken relationship with his recently imprisoned son. He has a new family and a big house, whilst his son and ex-wife live in their original home barely able to make ends meet. Meanwhile Bernthal’s character with the entirely unoriginal name of Daniel James is trying to prove to his wife and young son that he’s on the straight and narrow. Even “El Topo” himself, Bratt’s drug lord, has family concerns of his own to keep a handle on. From each of these three perspectives, it asks the question: what would you do to protect your own family?
When the explosions do start, and it’s not a prolonged outburst, it almost acts like a release from the slow build-up that has been leading up to this moment. Even better is that it still fits perfectly with the tone of the rest of the movie and provides an adequate resolution for everyone. It’s another example of a film managing to go above its relatively low budget origins and maintaining a compelling story from start to finish. In this respect it’s a shame that it didn’t get a much wider release in UK cinemas – unlike the aforementioned Fire With Fire and Stolen, Snitch actually deserved to be seen by more people.