Certs is a breath mint that was heavily advertised on television in the 1960s and 70s with the catchphrase, “It’s two, two, two mints in one,” because it was a candy mint and a breath mint. Now we have Snitch, which turns out to be “two, two, two films in one”.
Starring Dwayne Johnson (although on Twitter he’s still @TheRock) as “John Matthews”, Snitch is about a father trying to save his son from a long stretch in prison. His son “Jason Collins” (Rafi Gavron) doesn’t think through the consequences of letting his best friend ship him a very large quantity of ecstasy and he winds up getting arrested. Due to the fact it is a federal case, minimum sentence guidelines come into play and he will get at least ten years in prison. Unless he rolls over on another distributor of drugs, like his friend has accused him of being. John turns himself inside out trying to find a way to help his son until the idea hits him. He will be the one to lead the feds to the dealers, help them make the arrest and then his son’s sentence will be reduced.
The local U.S. Attorney “Joanne Keeghan” (Susan Sarandon) isn’t interested at first. John is determined though, and he gets one of his employees, “Daniel James” (Jon Bernthal) to introduce him to a dealer. James has a conviction for narcotics distribution and if convicted again, faces 25 years to life under the “three strikes” rule. He doesn’t know what John intends and introduces him to “Malik” (Michael K. Williams). Malik is intrigued by the idea of John’s construction firm’s trucks being used to move drugs.
“El Topo” (Benjamin Bratt) is one of the top men in the cartel that supplies Malik and is impressed with John’s coolness under fire. He lets Malik know he wants to use John again. This all sparks Keeghan’s interest, forcing John to find a way to hand her the busts and drug money seizure she wants while keeping everyone safe.
Snitch is both an action thriller and a message film that points out how the mandatory minimum sentence laws are being abused to send small-time people to prison for extended periods, rather than the major dealers they were intended to deal with. It manages to be both without one ruining the other. Johnson gives his most vulnerable, humanistic performance to date. Bernthal is perfect as the man wrestling with having made promises to his wife, but wanting to give her and their child a better life. Bratt makes an excellent villain and Pepper is strong in his role as a former undercover DEA agent.
With all of those compelling attributes in favor of this movie, it must be noted that it bears the appellation “inspired by true events”. Truth be told, much of the story is fictional or makes changes to the actual story upon which it is based. These changes make it a better movie and since it doesn’t say “this is a true story” they are entirely forgiveable. This is a good film and deserving of a viewing.