‘Snitch’ showcases emotional drama alongside action thrills
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 21:02
“Snitch” has been marketed as a fast paced action thriller, but it is nothing of the sort. it is an emotional drama aimed at bringing attention to real life social issues. The film focuses on the mandatory sentencing laws that are designed to force even small time first time offenders to snitch on their accomplices, with the goal of the DEA being to eventually work up the ladder and stop the drug trade. In theory we can all support this, but the film shows us the reality it brings about. The majority of those arrested are young first time offenders, many of whom were merely naïve. Dwayne Johnson plays John whose son is not a drug dealer, but agreed to hold a package filled with ecstasy for a lifelong friend to impress his girlfriend. What he didn’t know was that his friend had been arrested and set him up in order to reduce his sentence. Not knowing any drug dealers or anyone to snitch on, he is looking at a mandatory ten years, which his lawyer tells him could be thirty under some legal loophole. John then starts trying to find drug dealers to create a bargaining chip for his son’s freedom which sets up the film’s premise.
I liked Johnson’s performance and give him credit for breaking typecasting and trying something new. In fact, I’m even referring to him by his name now instead of “The Rock.” There’s a scene where he is pulled out of his car and beaten down by a group of drug dealers and another where a gun is pointed in his face and he looks away in fear and puts his hands up. Instead of expecting him to jump up and kill everyone after an intense struggle like we do in his other films, he excels at bringing this fearful everyman to life and reminding us that no matter how big you are you’re going to be scared when pushed into uncomfortable situations for the first time. They even have him wearing several layers to try and hide his muscles. This might work on Bruce Willis, but not on someone Johnson’s size. Still, Johnson works, and he takes this very seriously, but perhaps rather than try and turn him into an everyday man they could have picked a real everyday man to create a more believable thriller. Or maybe we should just be thankful that Schwarzenegger or Stallone did not try to turn this into some ridiculous vehicle for them to undermine real life issues that Johnson is taking seriously.
It works well as a social issue film, but it could be stronger. It feels like nothing more than a very good after school special. If we change the son to his daughter and the best friend who set him up to her boyfriend we basically have a Lifetime movie. The son is assaulted in prison, and since we know what happens in prison to young men, we all assume the worst. However, we get no specifics and do not see this happen. If the point is to show teens the dangers of getting involved with drugs why not show us the scene and the possible consequences rather than imply it? “Snitch” works well as a dramatic thriller, but it really is missing something to make it more than just a good time with some real-life value. The few action scenes are good and I mostly enjoyed them because they were extremely realistic. The acting and everything else works as well, but it’s missing something more and I just don’t know what it is. I had no problems with the directing, but perhaps a different director could have brought something to the table. Talking with people after the movie, I found that while some did not like the movie, they still said they would show it to their children to warn them. “Snitch” succeeds in bringing about the emotional response it wants from you and it may even change your mind about Dwayne Johnson as an actor. It’s just missing something and has potential to be more. You’ll enjoy it a lot in the moment, but won’t be talking about it years later.