Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh

Starring:  Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Michael Kenneth Williams, Benjamin Bratt, Jon Bernthal, Rafi Gavron

I am a huge fan of Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson.  He is an amazingly charismatic wrestler and he has parlayed that into an impressive movie career (i.e. The Rundown, Fast Five).  Thus, I was enthusiastic about his new movie Snitch.  I anticipated a butt-kicking father out for justice for his son.  I thought it had the potential to be a bit formulaic, but I anticipated some action. Boy was I wrong.

Inspired by a true story, previously depicted in a 1990’s PBS story, Snitch is the tale of a father trying to save his son from jail.  Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) is eighteen, and on his way to college.  He has a friend who wants to send him illegal drugs in the mail because he has made a big score, but cannot carry the drugs on a plane.  Jason tells him not to send the package.  However, when the package arrives, Jason is curious and wants to grab a few pills to try with his girlfriend.  Unfortunately for him, when Jason opens the package, there is a tracking device.  He immediately bolts but the DEA agents track him down.

His mother Sylvie Collins (Melina Kanakaredes) and father John Matthews (The Rock) rush to his side.  They are dismayed to learn that mandatory minimum drug sentences would allow prosecutors to seek a 10 year minimum sentence for Jason, even though he is a first time offender.  The only way Jason can escape prison is to snitch on other drug dealers.  The problem is, Jason doesn’t know any dealers except for the “friend” who set him up.  John Matthews pleads with prosecutor Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon).  She will only plead down if Jason leads her to another drug dealer.  Desperate to save his teenage son from abuse and assaults in prison, John seeks to bring in other drug dealers on his own in exchange for a reduced sentence for his son.  Keeghan agrees, not thinking John will have much success.

As an owner of a construction company, however, John has a few ex-convicts on his payroll.  He reaches out to one of his new employees, Daniel James (Jon Bernthal), to connect him with one of his drug cronies under the guise of wanting to make a little extra money by hauling drugs with his tractor trailers.  James, recently released and trying to provide for his son and wife, is reluctant, but ultimately connects John with a local drug kingpin Malik (Michael Kenneth Williams) (Omar from The Wire!). John enters the drug world to try to free his son from prison.

Snitch is an odd movie.  The Rock is a huge action star, but he is playing an average Joe.  The average Joe cannot fight, is scared of guns, and can be somewhat of a weakling.  It was hard to wrap my head around the Rock getting his butt kicked and being kind of a scared rabbit.  Don’t get me wrong-John Matthews is courageous and really goes to the mat for his son.  But seeing the Rock “punked” as John is just surreal because he is such a physically imposing guy.

In addition, the pacing of the film is a bit uneven and at times dull.  Because real life can be pretty boring and Snitch is inspired by true events, we are left with a semi-action movie.  There are some tense moments—but the thrills are few and far between in Snitch.  The film often drags and I had to battle the urge to check my watch a few times.  (Given that the Rock is smoking hot, it says a great deal that I was ready for the film to end).

On the positive side, I do think that the film’s heart was in the right place.  At its core, this is a film about two fathers’ love for their sons—both John Matthews and the reformed ex-con Daniel.  Both the Rock and Bernthal infuse their characters with strength, passion, and they skillfully depict two fathers who are willing to move heaven and Earth for their sons.  Moreover, Snitch attempts to shine a light on unfair drug sentencing laws.  Thus, the core of the film has some depth.

Ultimately, Snitch just does not deliver enough of a tale to make this anything more than a made for television film. If you are looking for a thrill ride, Snitch is not the film for you. Have a cocktail with this one, you may need a little vodka to make it through the slow patches.  Snitch earns a 0.09% rating.