REVIEW: “Snitch”

Snitch poster

Wrestler turned action movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson must be going for the record for movies made in a short period of time. Case in point, in 2013 alone he’s appeared in 5 different films. One of those is “Snitch”, a surprisingly competent crime thriller that takes a pretty simple story and soaks it with more tension and high stakes than you would ever expect. It’s also not afraid to throw a few jabs at America’s federal drug policy.

“Snitch” is one of those ‘inspired by a true story’ flicks which makes its borderline absurdity all the more digestible. Johnson certainly isn’t the most seasoned of actors but he does a nice job playing John Matthews, the owner of a small construction company who one day gets a call from his ex-wife that his son Jason (Rafi Gavron) has been arrested on federal drug charges. Knowing his son isn’t a drug trafficker, John seeks help from a federal attorney named Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) whose upcoming reelection has her looking for some good press. She’s also the only one who can reduce Jason’s sentence.

But Joanne isn’t all that interested in helping so John takes it upon himself to secretly find and snitch on some drug dealersin exchange for his son’s freedom. Jon Bernthal, perhaps best known for his role on the popular cable series “The Walking Dead”, plays an ex-con employee of John’s who may have the needed underworld connections. We also get Barry Pepper, an actor I’ve always liked, as an undercover DEA agent named Cooper. And another actor I like, Benjamin Bratt, finds his way back to the big screen playing a cartel boss and big time drug runner. John quickly finds himself in over his head and becomes a pawn of both the government and the cartel.


The Rock certainly has the build of a super tough guy and at times he looks like he could body slam whoever he’s talking to. But I liked that the movie never falls into that trap. His character is just a construction guy. No secret hitman or military special forces past. He’s just a regular guy and the story stays away from the whole ‘one man army’ thing. For me that worked very well and offered a much more interesting dynamic. Again, at times Johnson does show his limitations as an actor but it’s a performance that definitely works. And obviously he’s helped by the really nice supporting cast around him.

The movie is filled with moral quandaries, questionable ethics, and mixed messages. Much of that works to the film’s advantage. Everything isn’t all nice and tidy and it shouldn’t be. Yet while all of this works nicely there’s still little that sets the film apart. It certainly dabbles in several new and intriguing areas but its hard for me to get excited about seeing it again. And ultimately that’s where I stand on “Snitch” – a surprisingly slick and intense thriller but one with very little staying power. But still, compared to a number of movies pumped out this year, it’s an entertaining film that stays within its bounds of limitations.


26 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Snitch”

  1. Good review, definitely one of the more underrated movies of the year so far. You’re definitely right that it’s not tidy and the message gets lost in the action at times, but it’s still a message that resonates with me nonetheless.

  2. Huh. I had labelled this as a complete write off. It looked like it was going for the Fast & Furious crowd. Maybe it was just to get people in, but it seems like it has a little more depth to it than that. Nice write up mate.

    • Actually it really does have more depth than you would think. It really did a few things that surprised me. I’m like you, I wrote it off and didn’t even waste my time seeing it at the theater. But it’s a decent little film. Nothing that will thoroughly excite you but definitely entertaining.

  3. Nice review, Keith. This is one of the those films I would wait have waited to see. Susan Sarandon? What is she doing in a film with Dwayne Johnson? Now I’m curious.

    • Sarandon and The Rock. I know, sounds pretty weird doesn’t it. She is pretty good in this. Even though this isn’t a masterpiece by any means, it’s still a surprisingly competent and entertaining film.

  4. I decidedly skipped this when it was released. I’m hazarding a watch by taking your word for it. Aaaaaaannnnnddddd, my ever-growing queue grows one movie bigger. Thanks, Keith! 😀

    • I’m with you. I skipped it too. It’s not a movie that will stick with you for a long, long time. But it’s also a movie that really does some interesting things. It’s worth a watch.

    • I’m with you bro. The Rock has never blown me away. But this is a fun and entertaining little film. I really like Barry Pepper and enjoyed seeing Bratt in a small but really good role. There’s no beef and brawn to The Rock’s character which was a surprising change. Again, I wouldn’t say you’re really missing out. But I got to give it credit and I do think it’ll keep you entertained.

  5. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one heck of a busy dude, but he is a charismatic actor, which makes up for his lack of versatility and well, subtlety, ahah. I kind of like him in comedies though, he should do more action comedies!

    • This one will probably catch you offguard. It’s a different take for him. It was advertised as a straightforward action flick but there is more to it than that. It’s definitely not a straightforward action flick. Not a great film but really entertaining.

  6. Great review dude. I skipped Snitch because it just looked so generic. But by the sounds of it, it may have been just fun enough to warrant a rental by me. I really liked Fast 6, but I guess that was mainly due to everyone else and not really him.

    Like you said, its getting to be a record-trend here with how many flicks he’s in! Wonder if he’ll try and go for 10 this yr……

    • This is a slightly different turn for him. Not saying he’s the strength of the movie but there’s just enough uniqueness in the writing and in the direction. Like you I skipped it in the theater but it’s definitely worth a cheap rental.

  7. Better than it had any right to be, I enjoyed this little film, even though I’ll never watch it again. Probably a better film because of The Rock rather than in spite of him.

      • One thing I thought was underdone was the “miscarriage of justice” stuff at the beginning. I though having The Rock’s kid locked up in jail on trumped up charges was just too silly to be real. Shame to find out that it’s not really too fictional, then. But still, it was done too quickly to really get a handle on the father/son relationship, and the history the pair must have for his father to lay it all on the line for his kid like that.

      • Agreed. That could have been played better. But it really didn’t bother me. I guess because once the main story got started I was pretty involved.

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