I’ve come up with a theory in the past few weeks concerning the current state of the action genre. I’ve concluded that there must be some kind of Action Screenwriter’s Syndicate (ASS for short) responsible for consistently enforcing low-quality standards on all recent releases in a sinister price fixing racket so that no single title corners the market. Snitch is yet another one of ASS’s damnable brainchildren and as such, settles into the comfortable territory of the mediocre.
Helmed by stuntman cum director Ric Roman WAUGH!, Snitch is at least competent enough to stave off the onset of haemolacria but never distinguishes itself in any practical sense. Written by WAUGH! and novelist Justin Haythe, the film was allegedly inspired by a documentary about how new US drug laws encourage convicts to snitch on their accomplices. With this knowledge brought to light, I can’t help but wonder why this movie needed to exist when there was already a documentary that expounded the subject much more thoroughly, but you know how people are these days; can’t leave well enough alone.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson keeps up appearances but by no means dazzles as family man John Matthews. Let me get something off my chest. As much as I love the Rock, and as much as I’d love to not say it to his face, the guy can’t act. He couldn’t act in The Scorpion King, he couldn’t act in The Rundown and he can’t act in Snitch. For all his posturing and swaggering about, and the added fact that’s he’s about twice the size of a normal human being, it seems as though the only emotions he’s capable of portraying are a primordial rage that would make Schwarzenegger proud and a surprised earnestness that swells his eyes to the size of dinner plates as if he’s staring into your soul with those murderous/puppy dog eyes. Besides the Rock doing his thing, there aren’t many other actual charters; rather, there are just some people doing stuff, if that makes sense. Its almost as though the rest of the cast were given sentence long summaries of who their characters were supposed to be and told to adhere to them as closely as possible. The result is a bunch of dudes who may seem interesting and are admittedly superficially compelling at the outset but are soon revealed to be hollow and lacking any real depth.
Snitch’s main strength is it’s story, which is actually pretty coherently strung together and had some real potential had it been executed more efficiently. John’s struggle proves to be satisfying and engaging as he delves deeper into a world that he does not understand while simultaneously becoming further embroiled in a situation quickly spiraling into hopelessness. Where the narrative is a strong point, the film is a victim of brittle bone disease in a thematic sense. Like I mentioned in my Beautiful Creatures review, it is so disheartening to see a film fumble it’s thematic presentation so badly. At first, we’re presented with promising themes like character and manhood as well as the sacrifices of fatherhood. Likewise, the film’s main theme, the flawed nature of the justice system, which supposedly was inspired by the aforementioned documentary, is completely dropped and never explored again after the action gets off the ground.
Adding to the mostly mediocre execution of plot and theme, there’s not an once of levity in the entire damn film! Humor is that factor that humanizes characters and transforms them from angst-ridden automatons to sympathetic people. Likewise, all the grit in the world won’t make an impact if we don’t have a point of reference denoting that fact that everyone in this film’s universe isn’t always an angsty mess. Argo is a really excellent example of that kind of juxtaposition, wherein the first half of the movie could almost be a satire on the film industry while the second half is marked by gut-wrenching tension. As it stands, Snitch is so needlessly gritty that you could pound it into rubble and make a drive way out of it.
I wanted Snitch to be good, mostly because I don’t like paying to see bad movies, but also because I want the Rock to succeed and prove to me that he can excel in something besides B-movie cameos. What had potential with a tight, cohesive story soon became flaccid and limp amid an overly somber tone and lazy thematic execution. Maybe the the Rock will surprise me in one of the four other movies he’s in this year alone. Frankly though, I’m not holding my breath.
Rating: 3 out of 5