Title: Snitch

Director: Ric Roman Waugh (‘Felon’)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal (‘The Walking Dead’), Barry Pepper (‘Broken City‘), Rafi Gavron (‘The Cold Light of Day‘), Benjamin Bratt and Susan Sarandon

Creating an intriguing, suspenseful action thriller, which captivatingly interweaves entertaining stunts with strong character relationships that emphasis some of the most important contemporary societal issues, isn’t always easy. But writer-director Ric Roman Waugh naturally achieved that goal in his new drama, ‘Snitch,’ which capitalizes on the action experience of lead actor Dwayne Johnson. Through Johnson’s emotional portrayal of his character’s intense bond with his son, and a realistic look at the cunning nature of politicians and the struggle ex-cons face upon reentering society, the film balances the motivations of the characters with the stunts expected of an action film.

‘Snitch’ follows John Matthews (Johnson), the owner of a successful construction company whose high school son, Jason (Rafi Gavron), is set up for a drug bust by one of his friends. While Jason is a first time offender, he faces up to 10 years in prison under strict mandatory sentencing laws. To reduce his son’s sentence, John makes a deal with the federal prosecutor, Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon), who is eager for a publicized bust, in order to help her approval ratings at the polls.

John recruits one of his employees, Daniel James (Jon Bernthal), an ex-con who served time in jail for a narcotics conviction, to help him build a case against a local drug dealer he previously worked with, Malik (Michael K. Williams). John hides his reasons for setting up the meeting with Malik from Daniel, who is afraid of going back to prison and forsaking the safety of his family. But after Agent Cooper (Barry Pepper), the undercover officer working with John and Joanne on the case, decides to forgo the arrest of Malik to instead capture his Mexican supplier, Juan Carlos (Benjamin Bratt), John begins to feel as though he’s being used. John begins to rely on Daniel’s intellect to take matters into his own hands, and find a way to bring Juan and Malik down on his own terms, in order to secure his son’s release.

Johnson, who has found success in both action and family-friendly films, was well cast as a father who was willing to make any sacrifices necessary in order to protect his son, even if it means single-handily shooting down a dangerous drug cartel and put his own life at risk. Waugh created a versatile role for the actor, who portrayed the character as being relentless in his pursuit to find whatever means necessary to take down Juan and Malik, in order to broker a deal with Joanne. From John’s persuasive discussions with the federal prosecutor to the ever-growing hostile confrontations with Cooper over how to conduct the busts, Johnson daringly portrayed the character as being persistent in doing things his way, in order to get what he wants.

Stunt coordinator Tim Trella admirably worked with Waugh to create realistic and visually captivating action sequences in ‘Snitch’ that aided in following John’s determination to save Jason, but didn’t overpower the characters’ relationships with each other. From John and Daniel hastily plowing through a supply yard in one of John’s construction freight trucks to avoid being shot at while picking up Malik’s drug supply to John shooting at Juan’s men to protect himself during a drop off, Trella’s stunts effectively fit into the filmmaker’s story. Waugh impressively focused on the characters’ emotions and motivations, including rebuilding the strained bond between John and Jason; showing John’s distrust in Joanne, Cooper and the government that put his son in jail; and the financial struggles Daniel and his family have contended with since his release from jail, which led to agree to helping his boos; to drive the plot forward, and cleverly interwove the stunts and fight sequences into the story to help build the suspense of whether or not could help his son.

Waugh also daringly infused social commentary on some of the most debated societal issues plaguing modern American society, and successfully targeted the ongoing struggles Americans continuously face. The filmmaker targeted such diverse issues as politicians and government workers manipulating the public when they’re most vulnerable, in order to get what they want that will help their careers, with Joanne and Cooper stringing John along with the drug busts; the strain divorce puts on the relationships between children and their parents, as evident with John’s failure to see the trouble Jason was in before he was arrested; and the struggle ex-convicts face in society and with their families, as seen with Daniel’s difficulties in maintaining a job and providing for his family after being released from jail. ‘Snitch’ doesn’t solely focus on the action sequences between John fighting the drug cartel; the film also offers a captivating look into the emotional consequences of one single event.

With Johnson primarily being known for this action-packed thrillers and family-friendly films, the actor showed his versatility with his portrayal of John in the new action drama thriller ‘Snitch.’ Johnson emotionally portrayed the persistent father, who is relentless in successfully catching the drug cartel in order to help his son be released from jail and rebuild his life. The stunning stunt sequences created by Trella provided captivating action sequences that helped in showing John’s determination in standing up for his beliefs. The stunts and emotionally-driven characters also set up looks into some of the most debated issues plaguing modern American society, showing how one seemingly naive action can cause the unraveling of the ideas people have long considered to be true.

Technical: B+

Acting: B

Story: B

Overall: B

Written by: Karen Benardello

Snitch (2013) on IMDb

Snitch Movie Review

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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