Dwayne Johnson has so much ink, yet he doesn’t show off any of his tattoos in Snitch. Not one tattoo shot!
That’s because Johnson wants to be taken seriously as an actor, and his performance indeed shows he’s capable of more than making his pecs dance or firing guns while his tattoos sexily vibrate. (He’s leaving the sexy tattoo vibrations for the other 172 films he will be starring in within the upcoming year.)
Johnson plays John Matthews, a flawed but well-meaning father. He provides for the family he has living in his lush house, thanks to a semi-lucrative trucking company. He also gives his ex-wife and son from the former marriage enough so they can get by; however, he has little to do with the upbringing of that son, Jason (Rafi Gavron).
Of course, Jason has gone a little bad. He likes to smoke a pot and take Ecstasy. His love of Ecstasy leads to a bunch of it being sent to him by a drug-dealer friend, and this is where the big trouble starts. Jason gets pinched; John gets pissed; and a long jail term for the young dummy seems in order.
That is, until Matthews takes matters into his own hands, and offers to help the federal government nab drug-dealers in exchange for leniency toward his son. This leads to a lot of scenes with Johnson looking concerned, and Gavron doing a bang-up job looking freaked out. I found myself caring for their characters fairly early on, and that got me invested in the picture.
Snitch isn’t great, but it’s a serviceably good action film featuring fine lead performances and a decent supporting cast. Michael Kenneth Williams (Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire) offers a scary presence as Malik, a drug-dealer unknowingly participating in John’s scheme. Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) garners plenty of sympathy as an ex-con employee of John’s company who can’t resist a chance to make a lot of money for his struggling family. And Barry Pepper is his reliable self as a drug-enforcement agent with extraordinary facial hair.
Surprisingly, Susan Sarandon is the film’s weak link; she plays a typical government type with political aspirations who will do anything to get votes. She feels out of place.
The problem with watching a film like this is that it’s obvious things are all going to come out OK in the end. Therefore, there’s no real sense of tension when John is driving a big truck down the freeway and being shot at while trying to carry on a phone conversation. And you know the ending is going to involve tears.
Still, I enjoyed the film on some levels. For example, the scene in which John is being shot at while driving that truck is well-staged, even if it is predictable.
Do I think Dwayne Johnson will ever take a walk toward a podium to pick up an Oscar? Hell no. Do I think he will be able to handle future roles in thrillers that require some acting muscle beyond his HGH-enhanced, rippling tattoo muscle? Certainly. His work here shows that he is capable of taking things to the next level.
Now we can sit back and await the arrival of Johnson in Fast and Furious 6, Pain and Gain, Empire State and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which are among his other 2013 offerings. Or check him out as The Rock in a recent visit to his old haunts at WWE Wrestling. This man apparently wants to be everything at once.
Snitch is now playing in theaters across the valley.