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When a teenage boy is wrongfully arrested for distributing drugs and sentenced to prison for a decade, the father makes a deal with the United States Attorney to become an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel, risking his family and his life.
For more about Snitch and the Snitch Blu-ray release, see Snitch Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on June 6, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal, Michael K. Williams, Melina Kanakaredes, Rafi Gavron
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
» See full cast & crew
Snitch Blu-ray Review
The Rock crumbles.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, June 6, 2013
From tiny (well, actually gargantuan) scorpions, mighty movie stars grow. Few probably expected much from the erstwhile Rock, one Dwayne Johnson, when he appeared in CGI form as a massive scorpion in a kind of teaser coda in The Mummy Returns, a role that was expanded into featured territory in The Scorpion King. But unlike other muscle bound hunks from both the WWE and WWF who have attempted to matriculate their wrestling careers into big screen stardom, Johnson didn't just have the requisite charisma, he had a sort of self deprecating quality that seemed to suggest to audiences that he wasn't taking himself too seriously and also that he seemed to know that he wouldn't be accepting any Academy Awards anytime soon. While no one would accuse Johnson of threatening Daniel Day-Lewis in terms of versatility, he has nonetheless shown a propensity toward easily handling both light comedy and action Snitch is a somewhat new genre for Johnson. While it has some action elements, Johnson isn't a strutting muscle head taking out a coterie of bad guys. He's a fairly typical father attempting to deal with a son who has made a disastrous mistake, and who himself becomes ensnared in an ever deepening miasma of problems when he attempts to extricate his son from those issues. This gives Johnson an opportunity to emote more than he has typically had, even in his non-action roles, and the good news is he acquits himself quite admirably. Unfortunately, the film itself doesn't fare quite so well. Despite bearing the questionable imprimatur that it's based on true events, Snitch strains credulity to the breaking point at several key junctures, leaving Johnson's character a man adrift in a completely unlikely ocean of political machinations and crime syndicate shenanigans.
Snitch cuts to the chase, not wasting time on silly things like character development or setting up an overly intricate plot. We see teenager Jason (Rafi Gavron) Skyping with a buddy of his named Craig. Craig is evidently regaling Jason with tales of a drug fueled rave he's just hosted, and he lets Jason know that he wants to ship a large supply of drugs to Jason so that he doesn't have to carry them on a plane. Jason hems and haws, and kind of says "no", but the Skype call is interrupted by the return of Jason's mother, Sylvie (Melina Kanakaredes). The film then switches to contruction company owner John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson), who is attempting to grow his company in a tricky economy. It quickly becomes apparent that Sylvie is John's ex-wife and Jason is his estranged son when the package is delivered, Jason takes delivery, and discovers a DEA tracking device in the bottom of the box. An arrest quickly ensues, and John and Sylvie are informed that mandatory minimum sentencing requires a ten year prison sentence—unless Jason, like his friend Craig, rats on someone else. Unfortunately, Jason refuses.
John calls in a few favors and wrangles an introduction with local U.S. Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) and, after a few intermediary plot machinations, ultimately manages to get the recalcitrant prosecutor to agree to a trade of sorts. John will somehow get her the goods on a member of a drug cartel, and she in return will reduce Jason's sentence to one year. John's liaison is actually one of the cops who collared Jason, an undercover guy named Cooper (Barry Pepper), who is not at all sure this is a good idea. Even Keeghan herself does a sort of "Impossible Missions Force" disclaimer, averring that the risk is entirely John's in this escapade, and that she will wash her hands of it should it not succeed.
In one of this film's too convenient coincidences, it turns out a hard working guy at John's company is a twice convicted felon with major connections to the drug cartels. Daniel (Jon Bernthal) is actually shocked when John asks for his help in meeting someone up the drug cartel food chain, since he's trying to walk the straight and narrow path. When John offers a rather sizable bribe, Daniel finally relents, and introduces John to Malik (Michael Kenneth Williams), a pretty vicious thug who is nonetheless only a small cog in a very big wheel. Malik is a little suspicious, but when John tells him his trucking entities are a perfect way to move drugs, Malik sets up a little delivery, insisting that Daniel ride shotgun, something Daniel is loathe to do.
It's at this point that Snitch starts to go at least slightly off the rails. In a plot move that defies logic, John and Daniel manage to complete their "assignment", and John thinks Cooper, who has been tracking things from a safe distance, will close in and make arrests, thereby starting the process to free Jason. But Cooper decides not to arrest Malik, thinking he can actually do better than Malik. Rather than honor her original agreement, Keeghan goes along, insisting that John has to continue working with the drug cartel until the real kingpin (and they actually use the term kingpin) is brought to justice.
Snitch then veers perilously close to more traditional Johnson action fare, as John comes in contact with a suave but menacing drug lord (Benjamin Bratt) and attempts to thread the needle by seeming to work with the cartel while making sure his son is kept safe until he can be released. Playing into this is the fact that Daniel has believed that John is running drugs to make some extra scratch to keep his company alive, but ultimately becomes aware that John is actually working with the Feds. Daniel is certain that the cartel will kill them all if they find out. What's a father to do?
In fact, fatherhood is the subtext throughout Snitch. John feels guilty that he more or less abandoned Jason when he divorced Sylvie. Daniel, too, has a young son who is being recruited by gang members, and the prime reason he accepts John's bribe is to get his family to safer quarters. Even the drug lord played by Bratt has a little boy who plays into the film's climax. Snitch makes the none too subtle point that blood is thicker than water, even when millions of dollars are at stake. But the film is a bit too contrived for its own good, as exemplified by a head scratching comment by Keeghan toward the end of the film. She holds a press conference, showing wads of cash and announcing several arrests, and then she thanks John, lamenting the fact that she can't tell everyone what he did. What she seems not to realize is that the preceding ten minutes of the film involved a manic freeway chase between several cars and John's semi rig, resulting in several spectacular crashes and lots of gunfire. Well, maybe it was a busy news day that day, and none of that made the evening broadcasts.
Snitch Blu-ray, Video Quality
Snitch is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films and Summit Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1. This digitally shot features has a suitably crisp and well defined image that offers some really nice, glistening cityscapes interspersed with extreme close-ups that really bristle with fine detail. Director Ric Roman Waugh and cinematographer Dana Gonzales play with light and shadow quite winningly throughout the film, alternating sun dappled exterior shots with quite a few dark and dank interiors, all of which is presented with solid contrast and, with regard to the darker scenes, at the very least adequate shadow detail. The film might have benefited from a little less natural lighting in some scenes, where a bit of murkiness prevails, but otherwise this is a really sharp and well defined looking high definition presentation.
Snitch Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Snitch's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is extremely invigorating, offering copious surround activity in several set pieces, starting with the great chase after Jason accepts the drugs and a horde of DEA agents descends upon his suburban house. There are several scenes that involve gunfire, which pops with authority and in some cases pans clearly through the soundfield. One thing that caught me at least a little by surprise: the spectacular crash of John's semi, which was featured so prominently in Snitch's trailer, actually has a rather muffled foley effect associated with it, instead of a huge booming onslaught of LFE. Dialogue is very cleanly presented and Antonio Pinto's moody score sounds fantastic.
Snitch Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Snitch Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Snitch is an interesting opportunity to see Dwayne Johnson play at least a moderately vulnerable character, and he does rather well in this film. However, Snitch becomes increasingly ludicrous as it goes on, capped by an admittedly exciting chase sequence that nonetheless puts the lie to the thesis that everything is happening undercover. Waugh's contention that sentencing guidelines are woefully out of whack are an obvious target, and if Snitch doesn't hit that target with anything approaching finesse, it's at least a worthy subject for discussion and indeed a film. Recommended.
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Snitch Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: June 11-18 - June 9, 2013
For the week of June 11th, Paramount Pictures is bringing Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters to Blu-ray. This horror-comedy received negative press prior to its theatrical release, but the end result is surprisingly fleet and exciting. Other releases include Summit's ...
• Snitch Blu-ray - April 1, 2013
Summit Entertainment, a Lionsgate company, has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray director Ric Roman Waugh's Snitch (2013), starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Susan Sarandon, and Jon Bernthal. The release will be avilable for purchase online ...
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