Distractions overwhelm value of ‘Snitch’

Posted March 15, 2013


Based on a true story, “Snitch” has the awkwardness of real life, and real life is as engaging as it is unmemorable in film.

The dramatic thriller tells the story of a man who fights for his son’s freedom in spite of the justice system regarding drugs.  Whether intentional or not, the awkwardness of the movie is a compilation of small details that distract the audience from the deeper yet obvious message of the film.

The first distraction is, yes, I will say it, The Rock himself. Though beloved and charismatic as always, this is supposed to be the story of an ordinary man. Dwayne Johnson, with his action-figure physique and monumental stature, is anything but ordinary, which is what his character, John Matthews, is supposed to be.

After seeing him as a tooth fairy, a ruthless government agent in “Fast and the Furious”, it is difficult to see “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson in a serious drama such as “Snitch”. This is one of his more serious roles to date, but the awkwardness of the movie impedes a proper attempt at a role like this.

In most of his past movies, his monumental height and bulging arms are responsible for 60 percent of the characters he plays. This, however, was not the case in “Snitch.” The stature of this ex-football player is unfitting to the role of a simple father in a small town.

John Matthews’ 18-year-old son Jason (Rafi Gavron), is naïvely framed for drug dealing by a friend. The legal system forces small drug dealers in order to find bigger dealers. This, however, does not help him, since he was never in the drug business in the first place. His only option to reduce his 10-year sentence is to frame someone else like he was framed.

The concerned father is then sent on a mission to be his son’s savior against the justice system. As the owner of a small construction business, he seeks for drug connections from his workers, some who are ex-convicts. He is given permission to take his son’s place after getting a connection to a major local drug lord, using his new company trucks as a method to transport drugs.

The tenseness of the situation is reflected through the tenseness of the movie altogether. The authorities deviate from the norm to help a father deviate from his normal behavior to save his son. The storyline seems unreal, despite it being based on a true story. Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon plays a stern federal prosecutor but her character is not very convincing from the dialogue to the quick change of heart in letting a father take the fall for a son.

The second distraction is the fact that this is not what was expected. Rather than the action-packed adventure promoted in the trailer, director Ric Roman Waugh fills the film with close-ups, dark interiors and overly somber faces. With dialogues drenched in the message of the film, not even the small action segments with giant semi trucks are enough to make this film memorable.

The third major distraction was the cliché framing, with dramatic angles and close up shots in silence to create what wishes to be an eager curiosity from the audience, but it results in a static bland suspense.

The purpose of this film is to make apathetic moviegoers to question the system in place today about drugs cartels. Waugh wrote the screenplay with Justin Hay, inspired by the PBS “Frontline” documentary also titled “Snitch.” Waugh’s previous film “Felon” is also a critique to the system of an unfair incarceration that results in a life threatening fight in the prison yard. Though a beacon for social change, “Snitch” is a better television movie than a phone-call-to-the-mayor motivating film.

  • Title: Snitch
  • Release Date: Feb. 22, 2013
  • Distributor: Summit Entertainment
  • Leading Actors: Dwayne Johnson
  • Director: Ric Roman Waugh
  • Run Time:  112 minutes
  • Local Screenings: Sunset, Aventura, Dolphin Mall
  • Price: $11
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Personal rating: C