Editor’s Notes: Snitch will be out on in its respective home video format June 6th.
Snitch (Lionsgate), we are told at the beginning of the film, is based on true events. John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) owns a construction company. His college-bound son, Jason (Rafi Gavron), agrees to have a friend ship a large amount of Ecstasy to his house. In no time, the police and federal agents swoop in and arrest him. Because of mandatory sentencing laws, he is looking at a ten-year prison term.
The only deal federal prosecutor Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) is willing to make is to reduce Jason’s sentence if he provides leads to bigger fish. Because Jason is not part of the drug culture, John offers to infiltrate a drug ring with connections to a Mexican drug cartel.
To do this, he looks at the job applications of his employees, several of whom have arrest records. He singles out Daniel James (Jon Bernthal), who has a record for drug dealing but is trying to get his life together and look after his family. John bribes a reluctant Daniel to help him get an introduction to his former connection, and offers the use of his large semis to transport concealed drugs.
Snitch is a comfortable fit for Johnson, formerly known as The Rock. His John is happily remarried with a young child by his second wife. He is an intelligent guy who runs his own successful company and lives a good life. When Jason is incarcerated, John feels helpless and realizes only he can help prevent his son from spending the next decade in jail. Johnson’s size makes him believable as a man who worked construction for many years, and the actor conveys self-assurance and smarts required of running a business, hiring and supervising men, and making a profit. He’s a guy who can get things done, and this confidence convinces him he can accomplish a task others would find far too risk-filled.
Ms. Sarandon is effective as an ambitious politician who makes the deal, knowing she has nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Her political career could receive an enormous boost if her office brings down a major drug trafficker.
Mr. Gavron has little to do except run from the cops when they close in and look desperate when we see him with bruises and a black eye he’s received in prison. He elicits sympathy primarily because, though he’s not technically innocent, he was foolish enough to do a favor for a pal that could ruin his life.
Director Ric Roman Waugh has the touchy task of being true to John’s character and not portraying him as a cliched action hero — the kind Arnold Schwarzenegger made a career of in the 80’s. Most of the action involves his ability as a driver. There are some pretty neat stunts involving his semi and the assorted cars filled with bad guys who try to kill him, and these are made to look possible, given the dimensions and heft of the truck John is driving. In addition, when a crucial delivery is arranged, it’s John’s brains — not his muscles — that win the day.
Rated PG-13 for drug content and mild violence, Snitch deals with moral grey areas. Though characters act in unlawful or immoral ways, their motivations are well meaning. A kid does a favor for a friend by accepting a drug-filled package. A father who hasn’t been there enough for his son becomes a drug transporter. An ex-con trying to go straight is lured by a sizable bribe to give him a chance to make a new life for his family. A federal prosecutor follows the letter of the law, her political ambitions trumping compassion. Though there is social commentary, Snitch never disappoints in the action department.
Overall picture quality on this 4K Ultra HD edition is excellent, with exteriors especially sharp. The establishing shots of the city and surrounding suburbs look great, with vibrant details and even a sense of layers with foreground, middle ground and background clearly delineated. The close-ups reveal practically every skin pore, which can be distracting for eyes accustomed to traditional Blu-ray or DVD. When the 4K is compared to the Blu-ray version, the 4K easily wins out.
Bonus extras on the 2-disc 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo Pack include the featurette “Privileged Information: The Making of Snitch;” audio commentary with co-writer-director Ric Roman Waugh and editor Jonathan Chibnall; and deleted scenes. A digital HD copy is enclosed.