Reviewed by: Max Crawford

"Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?" Dwayne Johnson would ask, once upon a time. "Ham!" would come the gleeful reply. But times have changed. Dwayne's been practicing his serious eyebrows. He's ready for serious roles in serious films that tackle serious issues. So he's ended up in Snitch, a film more po-faced than a red Tellytubby. It's a serious pile of nonsense.

Not quite the smash-trucks-into-other-smaller-trucks action thriller promised by the trailer, Snitch is a crime drama based on a true story about how awful US drugs laws are. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws, designed to encourage drug dealers to rat on other drug dealers, leave a lot of relatively innocent people facing long spells in prison for first offenses. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's son is such an unfortunate, and as he doesn't know any drug dealers to rat on, it's up to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to befriend and entrap some and subsequently rat on them. He owns a haulage company staffed exclusively by ex-cons, though, so that's fine.

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Jon Bernthal puts in a solid turn as an ex-con haulage employee who reluctantly hooks up Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson with his contacts in a Mexican drug cartel. He grounds the film enough that long stretches of it can be taken seriously, making it feel less like a thwarted action adventure and more like a drama with a point to make and several moments of genuine suspense. Susan Sarandon plays the mean attourney who won't give Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson his son back. As the only female character in the film (Jon Bernthal's wife and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's wife and estranged ex-wife appear, but only as things for the male characters to worry about disappointing) it's a shame she's nothing more exciting than a one-dimensional careerist politician.

There's a lot to enjoy in Snitch: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's laughable attempts to convince as a businessman by saying "let's move some equity around" on a phone while having a go on one of those office putting sets; Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson learning all about drugs in a "looking things up on Wikipedia" montage; Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson pretending he's not thrice the size of characters who are supposed to be intimidating him. You have to wonder, though, if casting someone other than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson might have helped the film get its message across.

There's a bit at the end where Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson drives past a huge billboard that reads "Drugs mess up families and family is super important. Stay in school."

I'm lying, but not by much.

Reviewed on: 21 Jun 2013
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A father goes undercover for the DEA in exchange for the release of his wrongfully imprisoned son.
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Read more Snitch reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray ****

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Writer: Justin Haythe, Ric Roman Waugh

Starring: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Rafi Gavron, Jon Bernthal, Benjamin Bratt, Melina Kanakaredes, Barry Pepper, Lela Loren, Kyara Campos, Michael Kenneth Williams

Year: 2013

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US, UAE


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