Dwayne Johnson gets to use his brain rather than his brawn in Ric Roman Waugh’s Snitch, and he comes out a winner. This taut little thriller based on a real life event negates Johnson’s hulking frame and casts him as an everyman struggling to save his son from a harsh prison sentence. Though there are a couple of subdued action sequences, the main body of this work is personal and emotional asking the audience to put itself in the helpless place of this desperate father willing to do almost anything for his child.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 52 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy, UltraVioletkeep case with slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/11/2013
When his son Jason (Rafi Gavron) is caught in a drug sting operation and falls victim to the current mandatory minimum laws which issue harsh prison terms (up to twenty years) for first time offenders, his father John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) is willing to do anything to help his son’s sentence be reduced. Since Jason refuses to snitch on another peer who’s involved with drugs (which would have reduced his sentence to a year), John takes it on himself to broker a deal with the federal prosecutor Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) by offering to participate in a drug transaction that will bring the feds a major drug player Malik (Michael K. Williams). To help him gain entrance into the drug world, John calls on one of his construction employees Daniel James (Jon Bernthal), a two-time prisoner/now ex-con trying to live on the straight and narrow. When the first operation goes well enough to lure out a major regional drug cartel boss (Benjamin Bratt) who wants John working for him, Keeghan keeps John in play so she can make an even bigger score even though it will be putting John and his family’s lives in a great deal of danger from the cartel.
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
The movie is a combination thriller and message film alerting the viewer to the unfair mandatory minimum laws being applied as harshly to first timers as they are to drug kingpins but wrapping its information in an emotional roller coaster with action and thriller elements. The script by director Ric Roman Waugh and Justin Haythe keeps things pretty taut and straightforward for all of the characters: these aren’t action heroes plunging in and wiping the streets with their muscular aggressiveness but rather average people involved in extraordinary events where their lives are in the balance every second. There’s a bit of a stumble late in the film when Daniel goes hunting for Malik that seems a bit too Hollywood for a film that’s been so grounded in reality heretofore, but most of the rest of the movie rings true with a vengeance. Of course, in a nod to the action movie crowd that makes up a great part of his fan base, Dwayne Johnson does become a part of the film’s major action sequence: an interstate shootout with drug cartel baddies in pursuing vehicles which climaxes the movie. And with director Waugh coming from the stunt world, it’s no surprise the sequence plays like gangbusters and seems real without a lot of added-in CGI work to extend and ramp up the scene’s already ample suspense and violence.
Dwayne Johnson has become a very effective actor in films where his size and strength aren’t exploited. There’s not a false moment in his performance as a father willing to go to any lengths to help his son stay alive, and a wonderful scene later into the film when he’s remembering fun times with his kid as a youngster and his eyes well with tears shows how much of an accomplished actor he’s becoming as he balances dramas and comedies with his pure action stuff. No less effective is Jon Bernthal as another father striving to do right by his own family. As a two-time loser who knows a third arrest will earn him a life sentence, Bernthal imbues his Daniel James with the hopefulness of staying straight mixed with the desperation of trying to provide for his struggling family. Susan Sarandon is most successful as the conservative, demanding federal prosecutor, and Barry Pepper as her DEA liaison to street operatives gives another sterling performance. Rafi Gavron is affecting as the high schooler caught up in something far more serious than he ever imagined, and Michael K. Williams is as impressive as a street drug thug here as he was in HBO’s The Wire.
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 is faithfully rendered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. While sharpness in close-ups is outstanding, medium and long shots are sometimes of lesser quality. Color has been drained a bit from the images giving the film a somewhat dispirited look which fits the movie’s mood perfectly. Flesh tones are more or less natural, but black levels are merely okay. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound design is well thought out with the big action set pieces filled with effective split effects that sometimes pan across and through the soundfield, and with Antonio Pinto moodily subtle score getting maximum exposure through the fronts and rears. The LFE channel is also used to advantage to reference scenes of impending danger, and, of course, in the big crashes. Dialogue is always easy to understand and has been placed in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Commentary: director Ric Roman Waugh does most of the talking in this track with occasional interjections by film editor Jonathan Chibnall.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Privileged Information: The Making of Snitch (49:37, HD): a three-part making of documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew about the casting of the film, some production anecdotes, and the inspiration from a real-life case on mandatory minimums.
Four Deleted Scenes (5:35, HD): may be watched individually or together using “Play All.”
Theatrical Trailer (2:27, HD)
Promo Trailers (HD): Now You See Me, Alex Cross, Warm Bodies, The Cold Light of Day
Digital Copy/Ultraviolet Information
Less an action movie than a dramatic suspense picture with action elements, Snitch shows the continuing maturation of Dwayne Johnson as an actor and focuses on an element in the criminal justice system that may have been heretofore unknown.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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