Mar 8, 2013

Dwayne just keeps chugging along with one mediocre film after another.

Grade: C-
Director: Ric Roman Waugh (Felon)
Screenplay: Waugh,  Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road)
Cast: Dwayne Johnson (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise)
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 112 MIN.
by John DeSando

“How far would you go to save your son?” Tag Line for Snitch

Snitch is not Lincoln, taking a part of a much larger issue such as the life of the 16th president crystallized in the 13th amendment. No it is just a mediocre thriller that hopes to expand our understanding of federal drug laws for first offenders. 

Noting that a clean record may still not keep a first time drug offender out of prison for less than 10 years, the film is effective in showing how a father could try extreme measures to win the release of his son. Construction owner John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) makes a deal with prosecutor Joanne Keegan (Susan Sarandon) to deliver some very bad drug guys in exchange for his son’s release.

Given that Johnson is not totally comfortable in a dramatic role where he doesn’t display his formidable physique, he does elicit sympathy and he does not go over the top. Unlike Sarandon, the “dragon lady” as agent Cooper (Barry Pepper, in a wild goatee but not an over the top operative), calls her, who tends to play a bit too heavy on the tough prosecutor side.

I’ll leave it to you to find out if the law is able to help Matthews, but I must say the car/truck chase is as improbable as the capture of high-ranking drug lords and the safety of a novice snitch like Matthews. Yes, in the movies drug deals go bad, baddies get it bad, and families with wife and kids are prime dramatic fodder as the bad guys always know.

The coda emphasizes a draconian law that punishes a first timer more than it does a rapist and then bribes the poor soul to snitch on accomplices.  Although I have a better idea of how serious drug trafficking is being taken, I feel I learned much more about emancipation from the much better film, Lincoln.  Along the way, I also considered my answer to the opening question of this review.

But, hey, it’s February, a grave yard for weak movies. At least I learned something about drug laws and my relationship to my son. That’s the reason for the + on the C.

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel.
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