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snitch-dwayne-johnson1“Snitch” boils down America’s War on Drugs™ to a family drama, focusing on one muscle-bound man’s determination to wrestle a deal from a hard-nosed US Attorney and free his son from jail.

The Rock… er…  Dwayne Johnson is John Matthews, owner of a successful construction company and estranged father to Jason (Rafi Gavron). Jason falls into a Kafka-esque legal loophole when his drug-dealing best friend implicates him as a trafficker in return for a break on jail time. Under America’s strict War on Drugs™ laws Jason is facing a mandatory ten-year sentence unless he gives up the name of a co-conspirator but because he’s innocent he has no one to snitch on. Enter John who gets the action underway when he asks the US Attorney (Susan Sarandon), “What if I do it for him? What if I help you make arrests?” Cue the cage match between The Rock and assorted drug dealers (including “The Wire’s” Omar, Michael Kenneth Williams).

Snitch isn’t a bad movie, but it is a miscast one. As charismatic as Johnson is, his physicality gets in the way here. The character is a determined regular Joe; a father willing to go to any lengths to help his son, but how much more effective would this story have been if he didn’t resemble a cop who could crash the drug dealers he’s working with between his muscular thumb and forefinger?

Imagine the part played by an actor who doesn’t look like a superhero. As someone whose fatherly instincts kick in when his son is at risk and you’d have a believable core to the story. While John’s concern for his son seems genuine enough, with his shaved head, goatee and bulging muscles Johnson is a bit too much of a mountain of a man to pull off the meek act he tries with the drug dealers. Looking like The Rock works against him here.

“Snitch” is a hybrid of message film and thriller. The message is a bit muddled, but the idea seems to be that the War on Drugs™ needs to find a new plan of attack. Maybe if there’s a sequel Johnson could play a General in the War on Drugs™. Dress him up like a soldier and send him off to hunt down cartel kingpins. Now that’s a part I could see him playing.

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