Snitch – 2013

Director Ric Roman Waugh
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Susan Sarandon, Benhamin Bratt, Jon Bernthal, Michael Kenneth Williams
Written by Justin Haythe and Waugh

So why would any fan of Dwayne Johnson want to see this film?  There are no guns.  There are no fast cars.  There are no explosions.  We don’t get to see the people’s eyebrow, the people’s elbow or any other remnants of the people’s champion.  He even gets his ass kicked by some punks near a convenience store.

What we do get to see is Johnson at his desk, making calls and doing what appears to be paperwork.  He has a few conversations with Sarandon, playing her approximation of a conservative US District Attorney and continuing her trend of reading lines instead of acting them.  We see him getting the lowdown from Shane of The Walking Dead, who plays an ex-c0n with a “conscience” in the form of a son.  For the most part, Bernthal does a believable job.  All of his scenes, especially without Johnson hovering, feel authentic.  More so than most in Snitch.  Maybe this should have been his film.

I don’t have anything against Dwayne Johnson, most movies, I find him to be quite enjoyable, even when he pushed himself in the otherwise questionable Be Cool.  Just like Sarandon, he does not have the wherewithal to rise above this wooden script.

Unbelievable is one thing, but this story pushes the ridiculousness with boring sameness that we see in every modern drug dealing tale.  We have the disheveled detective (Pepper) and the chain of dealers going from the white low man on the totem, to the black guy above him (who did time with him), then a hispanic Kingpin (Bratt, at his usual worst) above them both.  The only way they could have made it better was to have the guns supplied by the FBI.  It would be an ironic choice for a movie not called Fast or Furious.  The need for this lousy approximation of what the drug dealing life is like was removed with the creation of Saul Goodman and Gus Fring.

Sarandon…what the hell has happened?  I am beginning to wonder if her career has been a mirage.  I am right there with her on the hole Hollywood throws you in when you reach Searching for Debra Winger age.  It’s one thing to take any role they will give you.  It’s quite another to mail it in every time.

We all know that Johnson wants to get past his “John Cougar” phase, but to do this, he needs to get away from small time films with medium budgets.  He’s done enough Walking Tall remakes.  He needs to do the big stuff, collect his checks, and see if he can convince someone the caliber of John Sayles, David Mamet or Gregory Nava to work with him.

(** out of *****)

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