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Being someone who wholeheartedly agrees that this country’s War on Drugs is nothing more than a governmental scam where the conflicted become the convicted and constricted, there’s a lot of things I truly like about director Ric Roman Waugh’s “Snitch” – but most of what I liked was within the movie’s message. On the surface, to someone who may not feel the way I do about the War on Drugs, “Snitch” may come off as a complete mess.
The editing is atrociously messy; the camera is rarely ever stable; the pacing is a little bit off and the film lasts a bit too long. But when you have The Rock as your leading man, the best that you can hope for is that something goes right – and that something here is the story. This is a completely unbiased look at how mandatory minimums affect this country in more ways than just getting a “dangerous” criminal off the street.
The Rock plays John Matthews, a divorced father and trucking company owner whose son decides to accept a package full of ecstasy pills from a friend only to be tracked by the DEA and charged with trafficking. Knowing that his son is actually a good kid who just made a mistake and trying to repair their broken relationship, Matthews agrees to go undercover for the DEA to reduce his son’s mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison.
Only Matthews ends up getting more than he asks for: The DEA, lead by prosecutor Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) and Agent Cooper (Barry Pepper), ends up using him to try to bring down a major Mexican cartel. For the record, Pepper’s supporting roles have become legendary. After really coming on the map following his portrayal of Roger Maris in the HBO film “61*,” Pepper has stolen the show with many of his supporting roles including (but not limited to) those within “25th Hour” and “True Grit.”
Michael Kenneth Williams also acts in a supporting role as a drug dealer named Malik, and he as well as the rest of the cast was well placed. Ric Roman Waugh, a former stunt coordinator for films like “Total Recall” and “Hook,” seems perfectly capable of constructing believable sets, congregating a strong cast and coordinating action stunts, but judging by the pacing of “Snitch” he doesn’t seem to be able to put a story together well. His saving grace to having a quality future as a director comes from the fact that Dwayne Johnson AKA The Rock was his leading man in this film.
The Rock combines his personas as the do-gooder (featured in “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” and “Tooth Fairy”) and the do-harder (featured in “Fast Five” and “Faster”) to create a character that is deeper and more heartfelt than any other that he’s played. He is perfectly capable of being the lead man in big budget films: “Snitch” is a perfect exemplification. Dwayne Johnson may actually be at his best when he isn’t playing a larger than life character.
“Snitch” could have been an awesome fast-paced thriller had it actually been tightly edited and fast-paced, but in the end it does drag a bit – especially when you realize at the end of the second act exactly where the ending is going. But altogether, for February American releases, this is a quality film by many means – and anything that criticizes the War on Drugs is usually okay in my book.
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