Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal, Barry Pepper and Susan Sarandon. Written by Justin Haythe and Ric Roman Waugh. Directed by Ric Roman Waugh.
Can you smell what the Rock is cooking? (Hint: it's cocaine.)
Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) plays John Matthews, a guy whose dumbass kid has some drugs mailed (which he didn't mean to do, he just wanted to try some but wasn't going to sell them, he was doing it for a friend, he's actually a really good kid) to his house then gets busted and shipped off to jail where he faces a MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE.
The MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE even for first-time offenders is mentioned. A lot. And with dramatic emphasis. After establishing that his kid is really good but a dumbass, the Rock goes right to the surprisingly readily available U.S. Attorney (Sarandon) and tries to reason with her because, again, he's a good kid, just a dumbass.
No-can-do-ya, sir, 'cuz of these pesky MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES. Hands are tied, bro. How about instead you go undercover for the DEA and try to bust the kingpin and not get yourself killed in the process and then maybe we'll let your dumbass kid out in a year?
And then it goes from being a very obvious and preachy attack on America's draconian drug laws to full-blown mindless action flick, as God intended.
Then it gets kinda fun. You know, in that mindless "I'm watching a movie starring the Rock" sort of way. The Rock glowers, then glares, then squints, then glowers some more. He fumbles his way into the underworld and finds what is actually a pretty spectacular cast of bit players: sassy and shark-like Sarandon, an underutilized Barry Pepper (as a DEA agent), a straight-thuggin' Michael Kenneth Williams (as a drug dealer) and a Pablo Escobar-esque Benjamin Bratt.
Things go boom. Guns shoot. Cars chase. Audience is mindlessly entertained.
The movie is only truly terrible when moments of seriousness are forced in. Not even the best of actors could save this awkward, clunky script ... and the Rock, bless him, is not the best of actors. The only "serious" moments that work are the ones between the Rock's reluctant sidekick Daniel James (Bernthal) and his wife Vanessa (Lela Loren). The dramatic tension between these two is the only thing that is either dramatic OR tense about this otherwise lumbering lummox of a movie.
That being said, the Rock is most certainly a serviceable action star (though if he'll ever really be a full-blown action star, he'll need a much better starring vehicle than this), and Snitch is a serviceable action movie – when it's not trying to be, like, serious.