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Billy Summers: 'Snitch' has faults, but overall a fun film

Mar. 01, 2013 @ 12:12 PM

The new action flick, “Snitch,” has its faults, but overall is a pretty fair “shoot ‘em up.”

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (”Walking Tall,” “The Scorpion King,” “The Game Plan”) stars as John Matthews, a solid citizen whose son is arrested for dope smuggling and the father must turn confidential informant to save his boy.

Easier said than done, as Matthews is such a straight arrow that he must go out and find a drug dealer to set up. He is none too streetwise, but does manage to link up with ex-con Daniel James, played by Jon Bernthal (“The Walking Dead,” “Rampart,” “The Ghost Writer”).  

“The Rock” still plays his characters as though he’s doing his make believe World Wrestling Federation act. You don’t really need Shakespeare in a movie like this, but the underlying smirk of his acting was a turnoff.

For a lot of people the gods reach down and deem you great in only one area. Although people like Ice T, “Marky” Mark Wahlberg and L.L. Cool J may be able to become famous rappers AND top-of-the-line actors, former pro wrestlers like “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Jon Cena and “The Rock” may have more of a struggle.

Susan Sarandon (“Bull Durham,” “Thelma & Louise,” “The Client”) plays a tough-as-nails D.A., who uses Matthews, against better judgment, after he pretty much forces her hand.

This movie has quite a few “name” actors, including Benjamin Bratt (“Law & Order,” “Clear and Present Danger,” “Miss Congeniality”) as Drug Cartel Kingpin “El Topo,” and Melina Kanakaredes ( “CSI: New York,” “Providence,” “Guiding Light”) as Matthews’ ex-wife, Sylvie Collins.

But, the second tier player that really stands out is Barry Pepper (“61*,” “We Were Soldiers,” “Saving Private Ryan”) as DEA Agent Cooper. With a scraggly beard and deep sunken eyes, he is both sympathetic to Matthews, but still hard enough to know that the results will probably be tragic.

This movie does slow down in a few places, which is surprising, since it is directed by former stunt man Ric Roman Waugh. There are way too many close ups (especially in the first half) of Johnson agonizing over his son’s predicament, and some of the dialogue is very tiring.

The fight and chase scenes are done pretty well, but some oddities include Pepper’s character doing the “Starsky & Hutch” thing from the ‘70s, trying to be anonymously undercover while sporting a very weird look and driving a cranked up Dodge Charger that stands out like a red and white Torino.

Also glaring is the traditional stupidity of the bad guys. When Matthews tells them his reason for going bad is because his business is failing, the Cartel fails to do a basic financial check, even though they are able to find out info on his home and family with ease.

He also uses a brand new tractor-trailer for a drug run, which would scream “cop” in every direction.

I’ve seen worse action movies recently, and I don’t feel as though “Snitch” ripped me off. It is what it is, an action movie, with good guys in white hats and bad guys with lots of firepower.

A winning combination since before the movies even started talking to us…

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.

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