Businessman John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) is devastated when his 18 year old son Jason (Rafi Gavron) is caught with a package from a friend containing illicit drugs and sentenced to prison for a mandatory 10 years. Intent on helping him, John goes undercover, with some help from US attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) and an introduction by one of his employees (Jon Bernthal), to infiltrate a gang led by drug dealer Malik (Michael Kenneth Williams). Things hot up when Juan Carlos (Benjamin Bratt), a major player from the Mexican drug trade becomes involved.
Review by Louise Keller:
Delivering above expectations, Snitch ratchets it up beyond the average superficial action thriller in its portrayal of a gritty slice of life, being the consequences for actions taken in dire circumstances. Inspired by real events, the screenplay penned by stunt-man turned director Ric Roman Waugh and Revolutionary Road writer Justin Haythe depicts the outcome of a father intent on getting his son out of jail and the extreme lengths to which he will go.
There is no glamour portrayed in the seedy world of drug cartels and the low-life that makes its living there, as Dwayne Johnson goes undercover, putting everything at risk. It's tense and involving with double crosses, several twists and a spectacular final reel with explosive action comprising out-of-control monster trucks, flying cars and the dramatic, deadly crunch of metal.
The set up takes place in the opening scene when 18 year old Jason (Rafi Gavron) finds it difficult to convince his best friend (via Skype) he does not want to be involved in accepting a drug package in the post. It's not always easy to say 'No'. When the package arrives, so do the police; a 10 year mandatory sentence follows, shocking not only Jason but his separated parents (Johnson and Melina Kanakaredes). The way the system works is that the accused can reduce his sentence by 'snitching' on one of his friends, but when Jason has no such contacts (and an inherent sense of decency), his father John (Johnson) jumps into action, on a promise from Attorney (Sarandon), that if he delivers a drug dealer, Jason will benefit.
There is nothing easy about John's entry into the drug world, initially using his nous to find an employee Daniel James (Jon Bernthal) in his successful trucking business who can make the required introduction. Michael Kenneth Williams is terrific as Malik, the dealer who offers John the dubious privilege of proving himself. Becoming more involved at every turn, John finds himself trapped in a reality in which it is not only his life that is at risk but also that of his family. The subplot concerning Daniel, a two-time convicted drug offender who is trying to turn his life around for the sake of his wife and son, is affecting.
The Rock rises to the challenge and is credible as the desperate father in the middle of an armed assault and ambush. The head honcho of the Mexican drug cartel Juan Carlos, is enigmatically played by Benjamin Bratt, who looks every bit the part. Barry Pepper, with scraggy goatee is intensity personified as the undercover cop looking out for John, while Sarandon is chilling as the callous, ambitious prosecutor with questionable scruples.
Nothing is glossed over and the resolution is both credible and realistic as we are reminded that crime definitely does not pay.
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SNITCH (2013) (M)
CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal, Susan Sarandon, Michael Kenneth Williams, Rafi Gavron, Melina Kanakaredes, Nadine Velazquez, Benjamin Bratt
PRODUCER: Tobin Armbrust, Alexander Yves Brunner, Guy East, David Fanning, Dany Garcia, Matt Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Jonathan King, Nigel Sinclair
DIRECTOR: Ric Roman Waugh
SCRIPT: Justin Haythe, Ric Roman Waugh
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dana Gonzales
EDITOR: Jonathan Chibnall
MUSIC: Antonio Pinto
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Vincent Reynaud
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 2, 2013