Review – Snitch

snitch_xlg                  Rating = ★★★    Tagline = High Matinee

There has already been a decent amount of action movies this year. It’s very early in the year, and most of them have been sub par. Parker is a good example how most have turned out. In short, not even worth of being mentioned as second-class entertainment. While, I wasn’t necessarily dreading seeing Snitch, I was in no way looking forward to it. Good action B-movies are very conman. I love and hate to see those. On one hand, countless are carbon copies of already generic action flicks. There are always some that come along and deliver a fun entertaining time, however. 2013 hadn’t experienced one of those. That is, until Snitch. Well, this one greatly surprised me. Snitch provided me with a good time, and even had a few elements that signify some extra effort put in. Flaws and all, I’d recommend this to just about anyone.

Jason (Rafi Gavron) – a high school senior – is arrested in a huge narcotics bust. Jason is naive, and not a major player in this, but he could still face some hard time. The cops, being advised by a prosecutor (Susan Sarandon), are expecting him to snitch. He turns down the offer and doesn’t rat out anyone up the chain. So, the plea deal falls through. John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) desperately wants to help his son, Jason. John decides to offer himself up as a bargaining chip to limit Jason’s sentence. He’ll have to go undercover to try to real out the big fish, a drug dealer (Micheal K. Wiliams) who’s heavily running the current trade. Things were difficult enough until another problem occurred. A Mexican drug dealer known as El Topo (Benjamin Bratt) starts taking over everything.

I was most defiantly not expecting Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to give one of his best performances here; if not best. It seems “The Rock” has been doing a lot of kid movies over the past few years. While I wanted something else in between, I could understand why he did them. At one point, he had done enough, though. “The Rock” did deliver us Faster. A darker action movie. While elements of that worked, it collapsed on itself in the end. John Mathews was a perfect role for him, playing on his strengths (still think his all-time best performance was given in The Rundown). Barry Pepper has always been highly underrated. He’s been outstanding in 25th Hour, Saving Private Ryan, True Grit, We Were Soldiers, and Enemy of the State. Pepper isn’t given tons to do, but he did a fine job. The rest of the cast did just enough to remain a positive factor.

"The Rock" has his work cut out for him in this one.

“The Rock” has his work cut out for him in this one.

Rick Roman Waugh hasn’t made many movies. Until now, I hadn’t liked any of them as well. His style just comes off as wooden. I can’t really say he’s immensely improved. It’s hard to judge if the things around the direction elevated it slightly. Many of the same issues are still there, they aren’t as amplified, though. Overall, I’ll give him at least a bit of credit for improving on his style. The pacing was handled well. Subplots are something I’m not too fond of most of the time. They tend to distract from the overall story. Very few instances have I thought it was pulled off. All the side stories here benefited the real story. All technical aspects were perfectly executed.

It was a big surprise to find out who wrote the screenplay; it was Justin Haythe. For those who don’t know, Haythe wrote the script for Revolutionary Road (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet starred). Haythe has written extremely few screenplays. This one is completely different from anything he’s done in the past too. I have to admit I was disappointed when finding this fact out. If I had went in knowing, my expectations would have been much higher. Honestly, to me, this didn’t feel like that same person. Pushing this feeling aside, I’ll judge separately from his previous work. With most entertaining action movies, the script either prevents anything from happening, or does enough to keep things afloat. Rarely will they actually give a boost. Nothing groundbreaking is written. However, it is consistent and never has a major falter.

What propels Snitch farther than most popcorn thrillers is the story. There isn’t nonstop gunfire and explosions. Of course, a good amount is still packed in. When it is going on it’s filmed well. Also, a better story equals better characters. And that adds more dimensions to the action scenes; we actually care. This builds tension to scenes that otherwise would have come off extremely bland. The drama side worked most of the time. Snitch even had a touching side. The cliched father son relationship was given life. I haven’t mentioned numerous negative parts. That’s mainly because I don’t see the point. Snitch accomplished what it set out to do. It can’t rise above what it is, but it can do a great job embracing it.

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