Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Snitch [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Since I'm a huge fan of pro wrestling I'm obligated to see any and all movies involving Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock. I even saw The Tooth Fairy..and liked it. No not really, call this a day late April Fool's joke. But, over the years I feel that more often than not, a movie involving The Rock is bland and mediocre. This movie right here, Snitch, kinda changed my perception on his movies. I went into this thinking it would be just another boring crime, drama, action, etc flick with bad acting and a bland story. What I got out of it, was at least to me, quite a pleasant surprise.

Snitch follows the story of John Matthews, a man struggling to live in life having two first names. Just kidding, again April Fools. God I'm funny. This really follows the story of John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson), a man who owns a construction company. One morning his ex-wife, Sylvie (Melina Kanakaredes) calls him and tell him that his estranged son Jason (Rafi Gavron) is being charged for distribution of narcotics. Jason isn't actually a dealer, his friend set up a sting operation against him to reduce his own sentence. John feels responsible for not being there and fears his son's life in prison. Using his connections, he meets with US Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) who is running a huge anti-drug campaign. She informs John that she can drastically reduce Jason's sentence if he goes undercover and informs on a drug dealer. Said drug dealer is Malik (Michael Kenneth Williams) and he is one of the biggest, and high ranking, drug dealers in town. John searches through his employee database and finds Daniel James (Jon Bernthal). He's fellow man with two first names, who is trying to stay clean and out of the drug game for his family's sake. John offers him a lot of money to help him do the deal, and while at first he's resistant, he eventually decides to help John out. What incurs is a story driven thrill ride, in which John Matthews can (and will) do whatever it takes to save his son.

This movie has it highs and it has it's low points. The problem is, when it hits its low points, it really drags the movie down. We'll start with the bad, cause why not? The acting, aside from Jon Bernthal, Michael K. Williams and shockingly Dwanye Johnson, was pretty ho-hum to me. All the supporting roles, Sarandon, Kanakaredes, Gavron and anyone else I may have missed were just kinda there. Not saying that any of them were bad. But when you have characters in a movie, I want to get into them. I want to get to know them in a sense. I don't want them to just be a device to move the story along. While it's okay to have one or two in a movie, it doesn't need to be a recurring theme that overtakes a story or plot. The second half of the movie has its problems as well, most notably the fact they wrote the story kinda wonky. Without spoiling, basically the first half of the movie almost wraps up nicely, when an unnecessary plot twist of sorts keeping the movie going. The beginning is great, the middle is wholly unneeded and ends just fine. Like they wrote the beginning and end, but didn't quite have the middle down. Almost a great pace which really brought my liking of this down. It kinda felt long due to some draggy scenes, but the story was good enough that it's not a huge issue. For an action movie it is pretty long, it's close to two hours. Also the final action scene, which some look at as the only one, is arguably the best in the movie. But it doesn't turn out to be all that great, just another average addition to the film.

Like I said above, the acting by the trio I mentioned was quite a surprise to me. I really liked Jon Bernthal on The Walking Dead, and always thought he'd be fine if he ever branched out to other things. Michael K. Williams played one of the best characters in television history as "Omar" on The Wire, so I always like a role he does well in. But Dwayne has made a lot of stinkers over the years movie-wise, so I always err on the side of caution with his backlog. But in this he carries the movie so well. Maybe because of the company he is with, or maybe he is getting better as an actor. Dwayne brings the emotion and the toughness, with Jon and Micheal feeding off what he's doing with his character. There's a scene in the movie where all three of these guys are first meeting up together to set up the initial deal. It's the point where I knew I liked Snitch. Not as a masterpiece or anything, but I didn't quite know why I liked it yet. While I have complaints about the story and pacing, the overall story was actually very engaging. I can't think of many other movies off the top of my head where parents willingly go undercover to help their kids out of a complete mess. Me summing up the movie like that may belittle it in a way, but if you like a decent story with your action, you'll be pleasantly surprised. I also love the aspect of anyone going undercover for any reason. I love thriller and mystery and you could see the influence of those in this. To be able to follow essentially someone like me, going undercover for the first time, it's a cool concept.

Snitch is one of those one shot movies you watch and are surprised by, but that you'll probably never go back to it again. Well, maybe if your girlfriend or partner wants to watch Jon Bernthal and Dwayne Johnson do manly things. The action is pretty solid throughout (when there is action), but it does leave a lot to be desired. The three of the main actors are great and the story is a huge step above most other action movies. Pacing and story problems litter this movie and if you like getting to know the characters you're watching, throw 90% of them out the window in this one. This is one of the better action-esque movies of the past few years. If you want to turn your brain off, go watch Transformers. If you want a little drama with your action, give Snitch a try.

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