When the promotional materials for a movie overuse the phrase “based on a true story” – especially when it’s obviously fictionalized – you can take that as a red flag that shouts, “the idea that this story might be real is just about the only draw that it has.” Such is the case with Snitch.
Jason isn’t a bad kid, just a stupid teenager. Like most kids do, he has friends that are part of the “wrong crowd.” When a friend pressures him into signing for a package containing thousands of dollars worth of drugs, he’s set up in a sting operation that will definitely land him in prison. When he was pressured into signing for the package, he was actually being set up by a friend that was recently busted for drugs. The law has a no-tolerance minimum prison sentence for drug violations – 10 years. If a busted druggie rats out another druggie and helps the cops set up a trap, then his/her sentence will be reduced to two years with one year suspended. Poor Jason fell for it. He’s no user, but accepting the package says otherwise. His biggest problem is not knowing other druggies that he can set up. If he decides to plead innocent and take his case to the court, then he could ultimately be faced with up to 30 years in prison.
Seeing the hard place that Jason is stuck in, his father John (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) decides to act as proxy by turning in some druggies of his own. Little does he know that the drug group that he has targeting works directly under the head of a major Mexican drug cartel.
I don’t think that I’m going too far out on a limb when I state that only 1% of Snitch is actually based on a true story. I’m willing to accept that a kid was arrested on drug charges and didn’t have anyone to rat out, so his dad stepped up and turned in someone else – but that’s all I believe to be true in Snitch. The rest is an overly dramatized, poorly/conveniently written melodrama that’s entirely impossible to connect with. Although the trailers and television spots would lead you to believe that it’s an action movie, Snitch is really just a super drama with two mild shoot-outs and one car chase. Be prepared to walk away completely unsatisfied.
The cast is fairly large and there are plenty of strong well-known actors, but the tone is so serious and overly dramatic that there’s no fun to be found in Snitch. Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan), Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead), Susan Sarandon (Cloud Atlas), Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire), Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality) and Nadine Velazquez (Flight) co-star.
Snitch isn’t horrid, but it’s very far from great. If it wasn’t so cliche and generic and if it could find a consistent tone that matched the story, then it might be worth watching – but you’re better off playing Oscar nominee catch-up on the last few days prior to the Academy Awards.
Photo credit: Summit Entertainment