Snitch ** (PG-13) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson tries his hand at more realistic dramatic fare in this supposedly fact-inspired tale of a father trying to save his son from a long prison stretch on a shaky rap as a drug dealer. The kid is caught with a bag of pills. He’s been set up by his pal, who made him the fall guy when he was busted. All this one needs to do is find someone else to finger, or face a ridiculously harsh 10-year minimum sentence under federal guidelines for our so-called War on Drugs. He either can’t or won’t. So daddy - a self-made guy who runs a construction and trucking business - decides to play dealer so he can deliver a big fish to the Feds in exchange for his boy’s freedom.
The premise is fine, but everything about the execution is wanting, beginning with casting the lead. It’s hard to watch the likable Johnson trying to stretch from every other role he’s had either brandishing or spoofing his superhero somatotype. The plot drags slowly for most of the film with turgid exchanges among Johnson, his current and former wives, the ex-con employee he pressures for an introduction to the level of dealer that will satisfy the ambitious prosecuting attorney (Susan Sarandon) who holds the key to his son’s cell for leverage.
There is one good action sequence near the end, but everything before and after is long on melodrama and short on substance. The concept could have offered some powerful insights into this particular weapon in The War, and whether the human costs in collateral damage justify such Draconian punishments, but you won’t find them here. (2/22/13)