Genre: Action and Adventure, Thriller
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Benjamin Bratt, Barry Pepper
Release Date: February 22nd, 2013
If Snitch was any good, it would be a great Father’s Day movie.
Its focus on a father willing to do anything to save his son– taking endless risks as part of a deal to get his son out of jail—is a message that many fathers could understand and appreciate. Add in Dwayne Johnson as the lead character and a few solid action scenes and this story could have been a fun time at the theater.
Unfortunately, Snitch’s glaring weaknesses will likely have audiences itching to get out of the theater.
Based on true events, the story begins with Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) only a few months away from starting his college career. His buddy asks Jason to sign for a shipment of illegal drugs. Jason is hesitant but doesn’t really say no and soon, he’s signing for the package and getting arrested for conspiracy to distribute illegal substances.
When he’s faced with a mandatory minimum sentence, Jason has a choice: he can set up his friends to get arrested as well—which is what his buddy already did to him—or he can face approximately ten years in jail. He chooses jail time, not knowing what an ordeal it will be. His father John (Dwayne Johnson) won’t accept his son’s decision so he makes a deal with the local prosecutor (played by a bored Susan Sarandon). John will take down some of the local drug dealers in town if his son will be granted leniency on his sentence.
The scenario at the heart of the story is an intriguing one and one that has great potential as a drama about a father’s undying love for his son. Indeed, we do see a few compelling scenes where the effects of Jason’s imprisonment and his father’s devotion to him are crystal clear. His father knows—as does the audience—that a long prison sentence will likely mean an early grave for the young man.
The weakness in such scenes, however, is that they lack a sense of depth or subtlety. The relationship between Jason and his father is never fleshed-out enough to create an emotionally-impactful story. It’s difficult to watch Jason change from being an energetic young man into a fragile inmate but the lack of personality displayed in both characters creates a wall between the actors and the audience.
The story eventually goes off the rails in its third act when John changes from being a regular father to being an action hero. Although the film was inspired by a true story, it’s hard not to wonder when the scriptwriters crossed the line when John starts knocking out bad guys faster than Bruce Willis in “Die Hard.”
If the story wanted to stick closer to reality, it should’ve seriously toned down its over-the-top climactic sequences.
The weakest point about “Snitch” isn’t that its prison sequences lack emotional complexity. Nor is that the final act ratches up the action at the expense of the story’s credibility. The movie’s biggest issue is that its middle third bogs down the picture. With an overlong running time and scenes that could have been easily tightened, “Snitch” overplays its hands and ends up pretty empty.
“Snitch” might have been made with good intentions but such intentions are quickly-forgotten in a story as unsatisfying as this.
Review by: John Hanlon