BULLSEYE or MISFIRE: Snitch Review

By Dr. Know on February 22nd, 2013


Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jon Bernthal, Benjamin Bratt, Susan Sarandon, Barry Pepper, Michael Kenneth Williams and Rafi Gavron.

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh.

Screenplay by Justin Haythe and Ric Roman Waugh.

Produced by Nigel Sinclair, Matt Jackson, Jonathan King, Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson, Dany Garcia, Alex Brunner and Toby Armbrust.

Summit has been marketing Snitch as a straight-forward action movie for the most part, playing up the action elements in the trailers and ads. And while I was sure those  set-pieces would be well put in place in the flick, I had a feeling based on our interviews with the cast and crew we were in for something a little more thoughtful, something we hadn’t quite seen Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson pull off before.

So with a slight change in gears did The Rock hit a BULLSEYE…or should he go back to his bread and butter because of a MISFIRE?

STORY: Dwayne Johnson stars as a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, he makes a deal with the U.S. attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission — risking everything, including his family and his own life.

ACTING: Dwayne Johnson as John Matthews: A blue-collar guy just trying to do right by his family and keep all of the plates in the air. Johnson plays an every-man in this movie, and the fact that he’s 6′, 4″ and has bulging biceps isn’t enough to muscle through a deadly drug cartel. Johnson’s Matthews is in way over his head, he’s scared…and it shows. Johnson shows a lot of range as the more-than-caring father and it’s the most fully-realized performance he’s ever given. If he keeps this up, there won’t be any type of film he can’t pull off.

Ravi Gafron as Jason Collins: A good kid who has no clue how one silly decision (one I think most of us can say we’ve made growing up) will inadvertently fuck his entire family over. Surprisingly, shows a lot of strength when he could take an easy out by turning on others, hence the central conflict of the movie.

Jon Bernthal as Daniel James: The ex-con trying to get his life together and the dude who gives Matthews the introduction to the underworld. We’ve seen this type of character before, the one who can’t get outta the life no matter what he does, but here it’s much more believable, plus the fact that James is given a full past, present and shaky future ahead of him. Bernthal’s makes you forget about Shane in The Walking Dead immediately and portrays an average guy full of fears and doubts. Very human. Just a guy trying to get by and make it work.

Susan Sarandon as Joanne Keeghan: A pencil-pushing bureaucrat with zero concern for the well-being of Jason Collins. She’s willing to help Matthews exonerate his son but only if it benefits her own ulterior motives. A straight-down-the-middle performance. She’s very matter-of-fact and lays the cards out for our heroes, giving them the choices. Not a bad broad, but not a good one, either.

Melina Kanakeredes as Sylvie Collins: The hysterical mom who blames herself for everything. That’s pretty much all there is to her performance.

Nadine Velazquez as Analisa: The new wife and life Matthews has built for himself. Easy on the eyes and understandably shaken when she realizes what Matthews is doing to save his son from his previous marriage. She could’ve played it as the young, evil trophy wife trying to force Matthews to forget his old life and family, but she comes around when she sees what’s at stake. Thankfully, there’s no bullshit melodrama between her and Sylvie.

Barry Pepper as Agent Cooper: Seen it all as a DEA agent. He sees everything clearly and doesn’t mince words or play any favorites. One of the few allies Matthews has when the shit comes down. As tough as they come, if not tougher than Matthews in this flick – believe it or not.

Michael Kenneth Williams as Malik: A pit bull. Once he gets his jaws locked onto you, he’ll never let you go. Puffs his feathers quite a bit to make sure you know he’s the biggest rooster on the farm.  A gangsta we’ve seen plenty of times but that doesn’t diminish the peril Mathews is in whenever he’s around this guy, one who has an itchy trigger finger from the moment we meet him.

Benjamin Bratt as Juan Carlos ‘El Topo’ Pintera: The shadowy cartel leader and ex-paramilitary soldier. All it takes is a few glares, the right tone of voice and a nod or two to his men to make you realize how much this character rules the roost. A worthy, restrained performance as the villain. The less he says, the more intimidating he is. Perfect.

FX: Ric Roman Waugh and his crew are keepin’ it real the whole way through.

STUNTS: A truck jack-knifes, the trailer toppling across the highway; a heavy-duty shootout during a high-speed chase; some people get their lights punched out; a handful of cars turn and burn during the same high-speed chase after getting creamed by the eighteen-wheeler.

T & A: Not that kinda movie.

BLOOD & GUTS: Realistic but no excessive; bruises and cuts from putting up their dukes; big bullet hits when people are shot dead.

So was a right about the change of pace for The Rock? BULLSEYE or MISFIRE?

This is without a doubt the best movie Dwayne Johnson has done for my money so far. A grounded crime drama that doesn’t go for any of the usual action bullshit these days and keeps things on the straight and narrow. Thanks to director Waugh’s sure hand, The Rock plays a man simply pushed to the edge, struggling to fight back and make things right.