When John Matthew’s son is imprisoned after being set up by a friend, John is willing to do absolutely anything to get him out. Anything includes making contact with a dangerous drug cartel in the hope he can snitch on them. It’s his son’s freedom for a drug kingpin’s head. Review of Snitch after the jump.
John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) receives a phone call that is every parent’s worst nightmare. His estranged son Jason (Rafi Gavron) has been arrested and put in jail after being set up by his friend in a drug sting. Jason is facing a minimum of 10 years in prison, and John knows that his son is unlikely to survive that sort of time with the real thugs and criminals who inhabit the prison. Using his business connects John gets an appointment with the local area US Attorney (Susan Sarandon), in the hope that she will be able to use her influence to help Jason. Unfortunately for John, she is running a re-election campaign which is centered around a tough stance on drugs, and she is unwilling to help without getting something in return.
To release a drug dealer, the US Attorney wants a bigger drug dealer in return. John doesn’t move in those sorts of circles, but he has a feeling that some of the employees at his successful trucking company might be able to help. John approaches Daniel (Jon Bernthal), a new employee who has two previous convictions for distributing drugs. Daniel is reluctant to help John as he is trying to go clean. In addition he is on his third strike, meaning there will be no lenience if he gets caught again. Eventually the lure of the dollar (and the ability to buy his family a safer home) convinces Daniel, and he organises for John to meet with his contacts in the drug business. The people Daniel know are connected to very big players, and the US Attorney is willing to make a deal if it means she is able to arrest one of them. Can John successfully transport the drugs and set the men up without raising their suspicion? It’s a tough gig, but in return his son will be safe. John has no choice but to make it work.
In Snitch , a rather thin premise is stretched unsuccessfully across the 112 minute running time. The idea that there is a never-ending chain of snitching was hard to buy. As was the fact that [seemingly] good guy John would go to the extreme lengths he does to ensure his son’s release. It’s true that parents sometimes do the unimaginable for their kids, but is shooting up a bunch of drug dealers really something that a man who (as far as the audience knows) does not have a questionable past do so easily? Equally puzzling is that the US Attorney would allow a civilian to put themselves in such a dangerous position. Sure she was running for re-election, but these type of take-downs usually take years of serious undercover and investigative work, not just a collection of desperate acts by a member of the public.
In a film filled with criminals from the book of bad guy stereotypes, the character of Daniel really rings true. He is a man with a checkered past who is trying his best to turn his life around. He has a wife and a young son to take care of, and he wants nothing more to do with the criminal world. It is this desire for safety that sees him drawn back into the world he vowed he would never return to. We really feel for his character and the awful position John puts him in. Jon Bernthal delivers a fantastic performance here, successfully balancing his tough-guy side with that of a worried and loving family man. Dwayne Johnson brings his usual bucket-loads of charisma and onscreen presence to a character who is not always someone the audience can sympathise with. I really hope that we get the chance to see Johnson in a role that doesn’t involve guns or being a tough man. I think he is far superior than the roles he is choosing.
While there are some very intense action scenes, the camerawork was often so poor that it completely took away from what was happening. The film seemed to employ the use of webcam quality dash-cams, grainy hand-held cameras and high quality fixed position cameras; and it switched between them at will. The sporadic editing and disjointed viewing experience that the odd photography provided really diminished the quality of this film. It’s a shame really, because at times Snitch was an adrenaline-filled ride that gave the audience reason to be seriously concerned about the safety of its characters.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Writer(s): Ric Roman Waugh & Justin Haythe
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal, Susan Sarandon, Barry Pepper
Runtime: 112 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: May 16 2013; USA: February 22 2013