During the early months of every year, Hollywood sends out numerous bombs to the general public, in hopes that at least one will blow up and take a few people with it. Yes, considering the caliber of films like A Haunted House and Season of the Witch, my suggestion that studio execs are trying to kill us all is appropriate. There are other enemies in the War on Terror, I tells ya.
On rare occasions, the heart of a Grinch like producer will grow a few sizes larger, and a movie will come out that – shock – is actually quite good. Last year, it was The Grey. This year, it’s Snitch.
The true face of terror?
The Rock (I don’t call him Dwayne) plays a father whose estranged son gets into some big trouble. Basically, he makes a dumb mistake by accepting a package of drugs from a friend of his, not knowing that the friend was setting him up to avoid heavy jail time. Facing a mandatory 10 years in prison for a first time offense, Rock pulls all the strings he has in order to make a deal with the government – he will find a way into the drug world, and nail a kingpin or two.
Less shooting, more pathos.
For starters, this movie is written pretty damn well. Now, this is no Tarantino script; it’s not very clever or wordy. In fact, lines feel stale at times. But, that’s the point. In real situations, people don’t necessarily talk like wordsmiths. This script isn’t interested in constantly telling you how good it is, because it’s busy crafting a story with strong characters, high stakes drama, and excellent tension
But, with a dialogue-light screenplay, the actors and crew have to work overtime to sell the story. And I’m happy to report that The Rock does a fantastic job here. The first thing you’d probably think of him doing in a crime drama like this is grabbing a gun and wickedly killing some bad dudes with it. Instead, in the only scene where he fires a weapon, he looks anxious and uncomfortable. He’s an out of his element father, getting deep into a dangerous world with even more dangerous people. I felt like taking some tums while watching him deal with a drug dealing Michael Williams.
Something must also be said for the overall production design. I never once felt that I was looking at a sound stage. Even the finale, with a car explosion and overturned truck, felt like it really happened (and it probably did). There is also a gloomy look in just about every scene, with clothing, lighting, and décor to match. All of these components build up an environment where anything can happen and anyone can get hurt. Very exciting.
I already mentioned the lackluster dialogue above, so I’ll just suggest you chug a beer because of a beard. And not just any beard; an epic one.
I have seen beard mountain, and it is good…
Barry Pepper (of Battlefield Earth, another movie with characters sporting silly hair styles) plays an agent on a drug taskforce. He also has a Fu Manchu. I’ve seen a few cop shows where specialty agents look a lot like bar bouncers, so I guess this is accurate. But, because it’s Barry Pepper, it just felt a little weird. Not bad, just… weird. He does a good job, though.
A wonderful surprise that I would highly recommend. Give this unmarked package a shot – no bomb squad needed.
Take a Drink: if you were expecting to see The Rock hit his finishing move at some point. Take a second one if you wanted to see him do his famous raised eyebrow.
Take a Drink: because a Fu Manchu is awesome.
Do a Shot: for trying to figure out how Barry Pepper kept that thing on his face clean from food.