Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Jon Bernthal
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Screenplay:Justin Haythe, Ric Roman Waugh
Drama/Thriller, Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 112 minutes
Release Date: February 22, 2013
Someone told on you Scott – the Snitch review is in!
Son of a snitch! Let’s recap.
We’re introduced to Jason Matthews who has been thrown in jail because his buddy sent him a stash of cocaine to “hold” for him. He’s facing 10 years in federal prison. His estranged father, John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) pulls some strings and gets a meeting with US Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon). She agrees to lessen Jason’s sentence if Matthews can act as an informant against the local kingpin drug dealer. Matthews agrees and enlists the help of an ex-con who works for him, Daniel James (Jon Bernthal).
James introduces Matthews to a dangerous local drug dealer named Malik (Michael K. Williams). Matthews offers his trucking business to help Malik transport drugs, but Malik is suspicious of him. He is willing to allow Matthews to transport a large shipment but only if Matthews is willing to drive the truck himself. In addition, James must accompany him. The two deliver the goods but Sarandon’s main field agent Cooper (Barry Pepper) fails to make an arrest, believing that Matthews can lead them to a higher drug cartel figure.
Scott, this movie is based upon actual events. The father, Matthews, is getting pulled deeper and deeper into the drug ring, making his risk greater and greater. I found it hard to believe that any man would risk his life for his son’s wrong-doing. But, it was based upon actual events, so I guess it must have happened.
But, there comes a point where something happens that is beyond belief. Matthews has visitation with his son. And he looks deeply, meaningfully into his son’s eyes and says: “You’ve taught me something. You’ve taught me the value of loyalty.” In other words, this man was willing to risk his life, livelihood, and potentially the lives of his and James’ family to spring his son – when all his son had to do was “snitch” on his friends. I found this impossible to swallow.
Greg, it wasn’t so hard for me to believe that a father would risk life and limb for his son. Personally, I would never have done what Matthews did for his boy, but I know many parents who will do anything and risk anything for their kids’ well-being. It borders on craziness to me, but never underestimate the sometimes illogical strength of the parent-child bond.
The prison visitation scene was fascinating. The son is getting beaten up by the other prisoners and has cuts and bruises all over his face. Again, my reaction would have been, “Listen, you idiot, you can stop all this if you simply tell the D.A. that you’ll snitch on drug dealers at your school.” So maybe this movie is a cautionary tale about what can happen when parents worship their children, even when the children show some truly lame judgment.
Fair enough. Snitch is a sugar-coated peek into the world of drug running. Compared to The Counselor (which I hated, by the way), this movie is like a Saturday-morning cartoon. The bad guys are Yosemite-Sam look-alikes and the Feds are cookie-cutter politicians out to further their own careers more than interested in doing the right thing.
Greg, I found myself liking this movie despite problems I had with Matthews bailing out his kid when the kid wasn’t willing to help himself. Pardon the pun, but Dwayne Johnson puts in a rock-solid performance, showing that he can act and actually has some decent range. There are two other noteworthy performances here. John Bernthal delivers a stirring portrayal of Matthews’ sidekick on the drug deliveries, and Barry Pepper is outstanding in his role as Susan Sarandon’s sidekick on the law enforcement side.
Snitch isn’t without other flaws. One irritating inconsistency occurs when Agent Cooper puts Matthews in harm’s way by failing to make an arrest when he (Cooper) senses there are bigger fish to fry. Keeghan chews him out for this error, but then later it is Keeghan who puts Matthews is terrible harm’s way and it is Cooper who challenges her and wants to protect Matthews’ safety. Why do these two characters flip-flop their positions? Doesn’t makes sense.
I was mildly entertained during Snitch but I don’t feel the need to see it again. I did like it better than the aforementioned The Counselor. Dwayne Johnson did a passable job, but let’s face it, he plays himself in every film. I give Snitch 2 Reels out of 5. Johnson’s character of Matthews goes on a good hero’s journey and learns a flimsy lesson about loyalty. But it’s enough for me to award him 3 out of 5 Heroes.
Greg, my ratings are yours in reverse. Snitch entertained me with its gripping portrayal of family loyalty (however misguided it was) and its suspenseful depiction of the dangers of infiltrating dangerous drug cartels. The film earns 3 Reels out of 5 for me.
As for the hero story, I’m not convinced that Matthews is changed one iota by his questionable decision to risk his life a dozen times over for his pathetic son. Alas, he’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I didn’t see too much else in the hero journey — no mentor and no father figure, for example. So I’m reducing my Heroes rating to just 2 out of 5.