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Movie Review – “Snitch”

Interesting thing about Snitch is that the following quote which is directly from the movie, sums up the plot in a nice package.

Chase the drugs, catch the players. Chase the money, catch the King Pin.

Snitch is an interesting movie in that it’s not an action movie in the standard sense of the word “action”. It’s a slow build up to the finale. It builds on raw emotion as you watch how far a father will go to save his wrongfully imprisoned son. And when the “action” actually takes place it’s a jarring wake-up to a reality that is to true in today’s world.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays John Matthews a blue collar worker who owns a shipping company in Missouri. His ex-wife Sylvie Collins (Melina Kanakaredes) is doing her best at trying to raise their son Jason (Rafi Gavron). Jason’s world gets flipped upside down when he’s arrested in a DEA drug sting after a package containing Ecstasy arrives to his home. The DEA is willing to cut Jason’s sentence in half if he snitches on other sellers, however the only person Jason knows is his friend Craig – who happened to already cut a deal with the DEA.

Willing to do whatever he can to get his son out of jail and get the sentence cut to as short a time as possible, John meets with Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) and Agent Cooper (Barry Pepper) to make a deal – John will go undercover and get a “big fish” to help his son. Knowing that he has ex-cons working for him, John looks for one that will help him with getting into the “drug world” in hopes of landing a big enough catch that the DEA will work with him. Daniel James (Jon Bernthal) is an ex-con that ran the streets with Malik (Michael K. Williams); Daniel is trying to move on with his family and get away from that world and lifestyle while Malik is running the show with the street dealers – both used to know each other from running in the same gang years ago.

After a trial run in which John and Daniel are ambushed by a cartel run by Juan Carlos ‘El Topo’ Pintera (Benjamin Bratt), we learn that Malik and ‘El Topo’ work together as they are part of the same supply chain. Eventually John is brought in by ‘El Topo’ to run the cash the receive from Malik into Mexico and the DEA want their top prize in this war against drugs.

Chase the drugs, catch the players. Chase the money, catch the King Pin.

So what did I think of Snitch? Read after the break to find out….

Grade: B-

Here’s the deal with Snitch – it feels like a theatrical version of a Lifetime Movie; rated PG-13 with a run time of just under 2-hours. The build up of the plot is a nice and slow build up with a very intriguing plot. But the plot, even if it is inspired by true events, feels like one that we’ve seen on Lifetime countless times before.  Now I won’t say that it’s a bad movie. I enjoyed it and thought the real world angle that director/writer Ric Roman Waugh used was the right way to go. Snitch very easily could have been made into a generic action movie ala the 80’s with lots of guns, explosions, and Kung Fu fighting. But Waugh managed to keep that in-check and really comes away with a story that does keep you guessing as to what will happen next.

Part of that feel came from the tier of actors that were cast and to me that became a ‘hey…isn’t that X from show Y?’ and at times took away from the story for me. Waugh took a big chance with casting actors better known for their television work to fill out the rest of the cast. You get Omar from The Wire, Shane Walsh from The Walking Dead, Stella Bonasera from CSI: New York, Michael from Lost, Nate / Jason Neville from Revolution, Dr. Jake Reilly /  Detective Rey Curtis from Private Practice / Law and Order.  Doing this did allow you to see familiar faces and even help relate to their plights in the film.

Say what you will about Dwayne Johnson as his background is that of WWE personality and wrestler but the man can act. He wont’ get an Oscar nod for this but should get noticed even more for his range of work. Action star or family man, this guy can do it all.

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