Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has gone from WWE superstar to cinema megastar. Some of his more famous roles are The Scorpion King, The Other Guys and The Walking Tall remake. He has been trying to take on the moniker of action king. His latest is a bit of a departure and is called Snitch.
The film starts with a slate that lets the audience knows that it is based on real event. Jason (Rafi Gayron) is a typical college kid who does what all college kids do, socialize on the computer. He agrees to accept a package from another college kid. The package is full of ecstasy and a tracking device. The DEA soon arrives and he is arrested.
John (Dwayne Johnson) is the remarried dad who has an estranged wife. He owns a construction shipping company that hires a wide variety of workers which includes ex-cons. The man loves his son and will do anything to get him freed. The local politician (Susan Sarandon) does not want to cut a deal but prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
Very soon, John finds out just how serious the situation is. The authorities want Jason to snitch on the people who are around him in the crime ring, but the young man would rather face ten years than give up others. John decides to take matters into his own hands and become a snitch himself, just to get his son a lighter sentence.
John approaches one of his men to make a drug deal. This wary idea eventually leads to a contact with low-level dealer Malik (Michael Kenneth Williams). He may be a drug guy but he is also a savvy businessman. He sends John to Mexico in order to bring some drugs back across the border in his semi. The drugs are owned by one of the cartels.
In one of the two big action pieces, the Mexicans are attacked by a rival gang and John barely escapes. On delivering the drugs, he finds that Malik and the cops both want John to go even deeper into the criminal world. The prosecutor wants John to keep on going, just to bring down one of the king pins. This action puts his entire family in jeopardy. The deeper he goes, the more dangerous the entire episode becomes.
The Rock still cuts a winning presence in Snitch. This action star has always played his roles with a slight ‘in-joke’ smirk. Here he becomes deadly serious and the role suffers just a little bit because of it. Dwayne, it seems, wants to move his career from silly action hero to dramatic action star. This is a weak first step.
The only reason to truly see Snitch is to take in the performance of Michael Kenneth Williams as the gangster Malik. He speaks a language that is all his own, so much so that it needs subtitles. But, it a weird way, the performance just draws the audience in. He brings a serious level of threatening menace to a small intense role.
Director Ric Roman Waugh is basically a stunt man who has recently become a director. One would expect that someone in the action arena would deliver a film with much more action and much less drama. With only two action set pieces, the film drags along for some very long stretches. The pace needed to be picked-up and the action expanded.
The more the film went on, the more I kept feeling that the Dad should just let his rotten kid rot in jail. He is an adult who seriously broke the law and should suffer the consequences. Yes, a dad would do everything to help his son but not to the detriment of the rest of his children. Putting everyone else in your life in such serious jeopardy does not make sense.
The Rock has five more movies coming out this year. This will either be the biggest year of his career or the year that The Rock is crushed. Only time will tell, but this is not a film that will help. The strange thing about these types of action films and action stars is that they now seem somehow very out of date. Arnold, Sly and Bruce all had flicks that have come out in the last few months, films that did not light the box office on fire. This is going to be another example that should fail to draw the intended box office. The final product is (sadly) a waste of time.
SNITCH is set to hit theaters on February 22, 2013.