If you’ve ever flown you’ve heard the great words of advice that greet you through the airport loudspeaker: “Don’t offer to carry something in your bag for someone else.” Thanks to the new film “Snitch” you can add this tip: “Don’t let your friend ship you a package, no matter how much they beg.”
Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) is chatting with his best friend over the computer. His friend needs a favor…he has a “package” that he can’t have sent to his house so he wants to send it to Jason. Jason knows what’s in it and, after contemplating the request says “no.” The next day the doorbell rings and Jason is greeted by a delivery driver. “Sign here, please.” Moments later Jason’s home is raided by federal agents. Busted!
A smart story that only begins to unravel at the end, “Snitch” is about Jason’s father, John Matthews (Johnson). John runs a successful construction company and lives happily with his second wife and young daughter. Jason is bitter about his folks breaking up, evidenced by the fact he uses his mother’s maiden name. It seems that Jason’s friend set him up…painting him as a drug dealer to reduce a sentence he received. John learns that, due to mandatory sentencing laws, Jason is looking at a minimum of 10 years in the pokey. He can get time off if he can supply some names of people that sell drugs but he refuses to do to his friends what happened to him. John takes it upon himself to approach the federal prosecutor (Sarandon) and offer his services…he’ll find a drug dealer, turn him in and get the sentence reduced. Unfortunately for John, you can’t look up “drug dealer” in the Yellow Pages so he persuades one of his employees (Bernthal), who stated a criminal record on his job application, to help him. And the game begins.
There are a lot of things to like about this film. First off, this is probably the most impressive performance that Johnson has given on film. John loves his son and that is conveyed through his words and actions. A few emotional moments cause John to drop his self assured guise and these are some of the better moments of the film. Sarandon is her usual strong self as is Barry Pepper as one of the federal agents that busted Jason but is sympathetic to his plight. Where the film goes off track is when it turns from an emotional drama into a car-crashing, gun-shooting action film. Instead of frightened father, John begins to channel John Wayne. As he drives his semi towards the bad guys while emptying the shotgun he holds with one hand he resembles the Duke at the end of “True Grit,” taking on all comers with no regards to his own safety.