Snitch (M)

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Review byMatthew Turner20/06/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Watchable if unremarkable thriller enlivened by a solid central performance from Dwayne Johnson and a superb supporting cast but the script can't quite decide whether it's a serious emotional drama or a pumped-up action flick and it ends up disappointing on both counts as a result.

What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by stuntman-turned-director Ric Roman Waugh, Snitch is inspired by a true story and stars Dwayne Johnson as straight arrow construction company owner John Matthews, whose teenage son Jason (Rafi Gavron) is jailed for drug dealing after he accepts delivery of a box of ecstasy tablets from a friend. With Jason facing ten years in prison, Matthews approaches federal prosecutor Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) and proposes a deal: his son's sentence will be significantly reduced if he agrees to go undercover and help the DEA nail some big-time drug dealers.

However, when Keeghan agrees, Matthews realises he has no idea how to go about making the right connections, so he approaches understandably hesitant ex-con employee Daniel James (Jon Bernthal) for help. James reluctantly agrees to help and sets Matthews up with local drug dealer Malik (Michael K. Williams), but things threaten to spiral out of control when the drug cartel kingpin (Benjamin Bratt) realises that Matthews' fleet of work trucks might come in handy for a spot of trafficking.

The Good
This isn't, strictly speaking, a Dwayne Johnson vehicle, so he can be forgiven for downplaying the more tongue-in-cheek aspects of his usual screen persona; instead he delivers a solidly engaging performance as a man plagued with not-having-been-the-best-father guilt and grappling with issues about doing the right thing. The supporting cast, in turn, are superb; particularly Bernthal (who has problems of his own) and Barry Pepper (as DEA Agent Cooper), while Michael K. Williams (The Wire's Omar) pretty much steals the movie as Malik.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that the script is constantly hampered by the constraints of the true story, meaning that the action strives to remain realistic (when clearly all the filmmakers want to do is blow stuff up and stage gunfights) but ends up feeling restrained. Similarly, the plot continually stretches credulity, to the point where it eventually becomes irritating – didn't anybody suggest that what Matthews was proposing basically amounted to entrapment, for example?

On top of that, the cheesy dialogue is frequently laughable and the father-son emotional bonding stuff veers dangerously close to sickly sentimentality at times. In addition, the pacing drags considerably in the middle section, since there's actually very little in the way of plot development.

Worth seeing?
The performances are good enough to lift Snitch into solid three star territory but the story never really grips on an emotional level and the script wavers unconvincingly between true life drama and straight-up action thriller.

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Snitch (M)
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Content updated: 18/09/2019 19:23

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