What Critics Are Saying About 'Snitch'

The new film starring The Rock is "pulp from a place of righteous indignation," says one critic.

Who knew? Who knew The Rock could actually act?

Apparently, Ric Roman Waugh, the director of "Snitch." He has cast Dwayne Johnson as John Matthews, the divorced father of a teenage son, Jason (Rafi Gavron). The son gets strong-armed into a drug deal gone bad and ends up with a mandatory 10-year prison sentence. Ah, but there's a catch: dutiful, guilt-ridden Dad—who owns a successful shipping company--can infiltrate a drug cartel and get his son’s sentence reduced. Making the offer is U.S. Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon ), who’s also running for office. Rounding out the cast are Jon Bernthal as Daniel James, an ex-con and Matthews’ employee, who’s trying to go straight.; Michael Kenneth Williams as Malik, a cartel employee of Juan Carlos 'El Topo' Pintera (Benjamin Bratt ); and Barry Pepper as Agent Cooper, Matthews’ police contact.

Here’s what the critics are saying:

Mainly, "Snitch" has a way of keeping you guessing about the next turn in its story, and a way of keeping Johnson's character compellingly at the mercy of others. There's a fair amount of violence, but most of it is handled crisply and without "attaboy!" relish. The junkyards, crack houses and mean nocturnal streets lend the story a vaguely fatalistic air recalling B-movie noirs of the late 1940s and '50s. It's an entertaining picture — pulp, coming from a place of righteous indignation. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Although it sometimes accompanies fine films such as Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, the phrase “inspired by a true story” tacked onto the front of a movie too often warns you that you're about to see something “inspiring” in the most hackneyed, triumph-of-the-human-spirit sort of way. What's surprising about Snitch is that, rather than taking the reductive path of offering innocuous emotional uplift or one-man-army action, it generates a feeling of real desperation and fear as it shows a man getting in way over his head when he takes on some very bad guys. In other words, this is a pretty good film starring an actor named Dwayne Johnson, not a commodity with The Rock as a hood ornament. Summit's main commercial hopes still rest with the mainstream action crowd -- which likely will be satisfied despite the film's refusal to dish out doses of bodily harm like clockwork -- but for Johnson, this could broaden the perception of the sorts of roles he can play as he pushes into his 40s. Hollywood Reporter

Snitch groans out of the gate. It’s the kind of clunky, exposition-heavy action movie where the protagonist learns about drug cartels by typing “drug cartel” into Wikipedia. But it builds into a moderately engaging character study of men driven to dangerous extremes by desperation, including Jon Bernthal, an ex-con employee of Johnson’s roped into assisting the boss’ descent into drug-running and money-laundering. Snitch begins to find itself with the arrival of Michael K. Williams as a drug dealer who embodies a fascinating, contradictory combination of viciousness and vulnerability. He’s a killer, but he’s also an ex-con living in primal fear of a third strike that will put him away for good, the same fear that motivates Bernthal. Nathan Rabin, AV Club

To the very end, “Snitch” almost dares you to chuckle under your breath or at least ask some pointed questions. Even the resolution left me with one “wait a minute!” problem that seemed to have eluded every character in the film. Still, this movie executes two missions: A) to entertain us; and B) to put some big exclamation points on a couple of messages about certain drug laws in this country in need of a thorough re-examination. Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times



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