“I’m not going to let you spend the next 10 years in jail, “says John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) to son Jason (Rafi Gavron), who’s busted on a set-up felony drug charge. Matthews owns a trucking company. In exchange for a reduced sentence for Jason, and with the help of ex-con employee Daniel James (Jon Bernthal), Matthews risks delivering drugs and drug money for local drug dealer Malik (Michael K. Williams) and Mexican cartel boss “El Topo” (Benjamin Bratt). Ambitious US attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon), candidate for U.S. Congress, offers Matthews this dangerous deal, hoping to prosecute a drug kingpin and help her political campaign.
Will Matthews blow his cover? Does Jason get out of jail? Can ex-con James save his marriage? See family drama/action thriller “Snitch” for answers.
Dwayne Johnson (aka “The Rock”) is good as straight-arrow businessman and conflicted father John Matthews, risking everything to free son Jason from 10 years in prison. Rafi Gavron is Jason. He can’t forgive his father for leaving mother Sylvie (Melina Kanakaredes) and him for a new wife and family. Johnson and Gavron are compelling in several tense father-son scenes. Jon Bernthal is also good as family man and ex-con Daniel James, reluctantly pulled back into drug-dealing by his employer who offers James money his family needs.
Others in the cast perform well, too. Susan Sarandon is conservative, career-oriented U.S. attorney Joanne Keeghan, and Barry Pepper is smart undercover agent Cooper who has issues with Keeghan. Michael K. Williams and Benjamin Bratt are heavies — drug dealers Malik and Juan Carlos Pintera (aka “The Mole”). Melinda Kanakaredes is Matthews’ ex-wife Sylvie. Nadine Velazquez is new wife Analisa.
“Snitch” is family drama/action thriller — two-thirds the one, one-third the other. Directed and co-written by Ric Roman Waugh (Jason Haythe also wrote), its first hour is compelling family drama: fathers protecting families; son, father fearful of prison; edgy narrative and threats of violence. The last half-hour, however, is non-stop action: multi-car/truck high-speed chase in which all the characters converge on the same bit of interstate, shooting and crashing into each other. It’s standard action-hero mayhem and, after the film’s good start, a disappointment. The last 30 minutes belong to another movie. Gritty, blue-collar smuggling flick “Contraband” (2012) tells this story better.
Rated PG-13 for drugs and violence, “Snitch” runs 112 minutes. Its take-away? Federal mandatory minimum sentencing for first-time offenders is a mistake. Discuss that issue on the way home.
Gripping family drama,
Dwayne Johnson is the “Snitch,”
He morphs into action hero,
A disappointing switch.