If you have kids you’ll find yourself saying, “Don’t do it!” for the first 15 minutes of this movie. Sadly Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) doesn’t heed that advice when a buddy asks if he can accept for him a package that contains illegal drugs. Upon opening the box Jason is immediately arrested by narcotics agents and faces ten years in prison under minimum sentencing laws.
His father, John (Dwayne Johnson), runs a trucking company and is a prominent businessman in their Missouri city. He is determined to find a way to get his son out of jail sooner, especially as the young man has no prior criminal record. However his meeting with the local DA (Susan Sarandon) is akin to hitting a brick wall. The only hope for a reduced sentence is if Jason snitches on another acquaintance and secures a conviction. Refusing to do what his friend did to him, Jason begins his decade of incarceration.
Unwilling to accept the situation, and further motivated after seeing his son’s bruised and lacerated face from a prison scuffle, John offers the DA a deal she can’t refuse: He will lead her to a major dealer and in return she will free his son. The problem is this father doesn’t have a clue about how the drug trade operates, let alone knows how to integrate into the system as an undercover informant. For help he turns to Daniel (Jon Berthal), an employee at his company, who was convicted for a similar offense and is now in the midst of putting his life back in order. After John offers him a large cash incentive the ex-con reluctantly accepts and the pair begins the dangerous mission.
Needless to say violent altercations with guns erupt during the various confrontations that ensue. These result in fatalities and injuries with some blood effects. Profanities, scatological curses and terms of deity used as expletives are also present, although less frequently than might be expected considering the subject matter. And of course we see drugs and discuss drugs, yet aside from a moment when John is forced to sniff some cocaine powder from the blade of a knife, there are no scenes of usage.
What this movie does best is putting the audience in a nearly continual state of anxiety while watching this father trying to undo his son’s stupidity. It aptly demonstrates how simply agreeing to participate in a drug exchange can destroy not only one life but also an entire family.
Whether this moralistic agenda is the primary focus of Snitch is debatable. The film appears to be critical of minimum sentencing legislation too, and how a young person’s life can be destroyed by a single foolish blunder—especially after being setup by a friend who is desperate to have a sentence commuted. Yet no matter your opinion, the story is bound to stimulate conversation and provide an opportunity for parents to explain the heady consequences attached to illegal drugs.
Marketed as an action film Snitch delivers the goods with excellent performances (this may be Johnson’s best role yet) and an intelligent script with an important message.