Despite the adrenaline-pumping shoot-outs and bone-crunching car chases, “Snitch” is actually an issue movie cleverly disguised as a typical Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson action vehicle.
That's not a complaint, but the latest project from stuntman-turned-director Ric Roman Waugh (2008's “Felon”) valiantly attempts to serve two masters and manages to come up a bit short in both genres.
Inspired by a segment from the PBS investigative series “Frontline,” “Snitch” is cagily designed to get moviegoers who would probably never watch “Frontline” or Eugene Jarecki's acclaimed documentary “The House I Live In” talking about the high human cost of the war on drugs.
Rather than playing one of his usual indestructible action heroes, Johnson stars as John Matthews, a blue-collar businessman who has shifted from driving big rigs to running his own construction and shipping company. He and his second wife Analisa (Nadine Velazquez) are happily hosting a birthday bash for their young daughter when he gets a frantic phone call from his resentful ex-wife Sylvie (Melina Kanakaredes).
John is shocked to learn that his college-bound 18-year-old son Jason (Rafi Gavron) has been arrested for dealing drugs. The teenager didn't actually sell anything; Jason stupidly bowed to pressure from his best pal to sign for a package containing Ecstasy. Due to the massive number of pills in the box, however, Jason is snared under federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws designed to put away major drug traffickers.
The first-time offender is suddenly facing 10 to 30 years in prison, unless he can offer information that leads to the prosecution of another drug dealer. The problem is Jason doesn't know any besides the friend they've already arrested, and even if he did, he angrily vows, he wouldn't set up someone like his so-called buddy did to him.
Desperate to save his son and fueled by post-divorce guilt, John makes a deal with ambitious U.S. Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon): He will work as an informant, and if he can help bring down at least one big-time drug dealer, she will drastically reduce his son's sentence.