Reel Review – Ratting Out ‘Snitch’

Shawn McCormick / March 2, 2013 - 8:10pm

2013 will be the biggest and brightest year in Dwayne Johnson‘s acting career. Johnson will have five movies, including Snitch, released before the end of the summer, such as blockbusters Fast and Furious 6 alongside Vin Diesel and former MMA star Gina Carano, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation starring Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum. He will also star in Pain and Gain alongside Mark Wahlberg, and Empire State with young stars Emma Roberts and Liam Hemsworth.

This is an amazing feat for any actor to have five movies released in such a short span, but what is even more incredible is that Johnson is also back wrestling in World Wrestling Entertainment. Johnson has been appearing every couple of weeks on WWE television programs and will be headlining the WWE’s biggest show of the year, “WrestleMania 29” on April 7. The first of Johnson’s movies to be released this year is Snitch, which was first in theatres on February 22, and is not the typical movie or role that you would expect to see from Johnson, aside from Gridiron Gang (2006). Snitch is based on the true story of John Matthews (Johnson) becoming an informant to protect his son Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) from spending up to 10 years in jail.

The acting in the film is strong from all involved. Johnson plays the part of a grieving divorced father well, choosing to disregard his ex-wife’s outlooks, and shows that they had a rocky split, without going into the subtle details of the divorce. Johnson sports his trademark muscular frame in this movie, but he does not use it to manhandle anyone. In fact, he gets his ass kicked in the movie due to his lack of street smarts. Matthews relies on an ex-convict employee of his, Daniel James, played by Joe Bernthal (The Walking Dead), to help him get connected to the drug world. James is an over-emotional family man who is torn between doing the right thing and helping his family. The movie also stars the legendary Susan Sarandon as a U.S. Attorney who always brings it on the big screen. Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan) plays a drug enforcement agent, who wants to help Matthews get his son out of jail, but is more committed to keeping the streets free of criminals.

***SPOILERS BELOW***

Much of the movie focuses on the notion of a parent willing to do anything to protect their children from the dangers of the world. When Matthews finds out his son has been arrested, he immediately blames himself for not being there for his son and raising him properly. He suggests going to jail himself as a way to absolve his son of his crimes, but is denied by Joanne Keeghan (Sarandon). Instead, he persuades her to let him bring in a drug cartel by going undercover. Matthews is able to do this with the help of reluctant employee Daniel James. After refusing to take $20,000 to help Matthews, James finds his son hanging around some thugs in their neighbourhood. This makes James realize that he can’t have his son growing up in the same neighbourhoods he grew up in and making the same mistakes that led him to prison. James risks jail time to protect his son from a life surrounded by wrong choices and criminals. Snitch shows parents affected by divorce, jail time and being a drug lord, yet they all put their kids ahead of themselves in the end, which is a good message within the film.

***END OF SPOILERS***

The cinematography in the film was something that stood out to me as well. I particularly liked how the diner scene was shot using the mirror directly to the side of Matthews and James to showcase different angles and over-the-shoulder shots. The action scenes were shot in a first person point of view style, which can sometimes be sporadic throughout the film in switching from first person to third person point of views. But I felt this movie used it enough throughout the film to make it thematic, but not too much to make it overkill.

Overall, Snitch was not the action thriller it was portrayed to be and was more of a character drama led by strong performances from Johnson and Bernthal. It was the best acted role for Dwayne Johnson outside of his character in the Gridiron Gang. Snitch has been a success thus far and has bested Johnson’s last starring role in Faster by over $5 million in its opening weekend at the box office, and has already reached its estimated production budget of $15 million. A successful start for Johnson’s busy year, and I believe this is only the beginning of the “Year of The Rock.” I rate this movie a 6 out of 10.

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