Review: Snitch

Snitch Poster

Inspired by true events, Snitch is the story of a suburban dad, turned undercover Narc in order to reduce the sentence for his son who made a bad call.  John Matthews (Dwayne, “The Rock”, Johnson) is a hardworking owner of a construction shipping company.  When his estranged son is busted accepting a package of Ecstasy from a friend, it looks like at least ten years of prison time.  Pressing the federal prosecutor (Susan Sarandon), Matthews convinces her to cut the sentence in exchange for his help tracking down and arresting some more relevant drug dealers than his son.  After all, with an election coming up, she could use the good publicity.

This is one of the most deceptively marketed films in recent memory.  From watching the trailers, anyone might easily assume this is two hours of The Rock beating up drug dealers with semi-trucks.  Something like a Fast and Furious spin off.  If you go into this movie looking for an action flick, be prepared to be sorely disappointed.  There are exactly two action sequences in the entire movie, and of those, only the finale really stands out.

I’m not saying action=good, but this movie has clearly been marketed to appeal to those looking for some explosions fueled by testosterone and adrenaline, and for the most part, that aspect is non-existent.  This is a movie about how not only are drug dealers are bad, the way the government deals with them is as well.  There’s even a nice little blurb right before the end credits about how first time drug offenders often face harsher punishment than rapists and other really bad people.  It’s like a long episode of Law and Order, without the engrossing story.

I would usually decry Hollywood for putting their shiny spin on a true story, but this is one time that I wouldn’t have minded a little Hollywood magic added.  The whole story plays very flat, with only the occasional spike or dip of emotion.  There’s a good story at the core, I’m sure of it, but only rarely does it show through.  It’s not the fault of the cast, and in fact Johnson further proves he can be more than “Rock, Smash!” though it is a bit disconcerting to see him in a role that would seem to demand action and then have him play a relatively wimpy character.

The PG-13 rating is also confusing – the subject matter seems to beg an R rating.  What we end up with is something that given some intense situations and language use seems a bit more than is appropriate, yet it still feels watered down in parts, never becoming an accessible warning for teens, or an intense drama for adults.

Snitch can’t decide whether it is a family drama, cautionary drug tale, or action movie and so more or less fails on all fronts.   It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not a good one either.

My Rating:  2 out of 5 Hats

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Mrs. Hamster Says:

“The whole movie made no sense – the amount of crazy things he did, and all the other people’s lives he affected just wasn’t worth trying to get his son off the hook.  Also, it was all pretty boring.”

Trailer:

Snitch opens in 2,500 theaters, Feb. 22