I knew absolutely zero when I stepped into the theater. I hadn’t even seen a preview or trailer. Zero. I assumed it might be like Johnson’s last gritty outing Faster. I was pleasantly surprised.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as owner of a construction company, John Matthews. When his son gets arrested for drug possession and intent to distribute, Matthews begins working with the government to track down and lock up high-level drug cartel members, in exchange for his son’s freedom. He is assisted by the Federal Prosecutor played by Susan Sarandon and an experienced agent played by Barry Pepper (who will also win “grossest beard of the year” awards for this film).
Dwayne Johnson really holds his own here. While a lot of action goes down, he’s not a badass for most of the movie, but he pulls off being a desperate father who’s willing to do anything to rescue his son from jail. It’s different than the usual character that the Rock plays, where he busts heads the whole time. Johnson comes off as vulnerable and desperate and it was refreshing.
While the action is rare, when it happens, it is absolutely thrilling. The movie builds to an incredible climax and there are some amazing set pieces here that are definitely memorable. And even when the action is low, the tension is thick throughout the entire movie. You know that things aren’t going to likely end well. I had butterflies in my stomach because I was so invested and nervous in this story.
Johnson’s supporting cast is pretty spot-on. Susan Sarandon stars as a federal prosecutor who is the only one able to release his son from prison. You never really know if she’s on his side or not, or she’s just self-serving. But she plays it perfectly. Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) stars as an ex-con who gets wrapped up in the job when Johnson’s character asks to be introduced to big players in the drug game, that he can then work with the government to take down. Bernthal plays it spot-on, believable in both his aggression and anger and also his sentimentality as he just wants to be a good guy and settle down with his family. It’s gut wrenching as you watch him get wrapped back up in the game and risks everything he’s tried to undo.
As for the story, it’s unpredictable and you never know how the writers are going to twist the knife next. It’s a satisfying conclusion and luckily Johnson’s hero is likeable and empathetic enough that we care about this journey.
What doesn’t work?
Barry Pepper’s beard is gross.
Other than that, I really enjoyed this movie.
I was surprised because I somehow missed all media and marketing about this film. But the movie was intense, had an incredible cast, and managed to have me on the edge of my seat for most of the movie. It feels like there’s a lull in this post-Oscar break until summertime, but Snitch is one that should definitely be on your radar.