Monday, February 25, 2013


Now that awards season has passed, if you're looking to turn your brain off and kill 95 minutes, you could do worse than Dwayne Johnson's new action vehicle "Snitch," in which the Rock, a construction company owner whose son faces a mandatory minimum of ten years after accepting delivery of a FedEx package containing his best friend's huge stash of Ecstasy, volunteers to entrap a local kingpin and later a major Mexican cartel by running drugs and money across the country and over the border in exchange for D.A. Susan Sarandon's promise to release the kid.

The story is rather straightforward, and there's a high ratio of exposition and set-up to actual action. But the material is significantly enhanced by a number of strong performances. Johnson himself makes a credible leading man, and Barry Pepper lends solid support as the field agent who tries to warn Johnson off his chosen course of action. I've never been the president of the Susan Sarandon fan club, but I really liked her here as a politically astute, all-business prosecutor who may or may not keep her word. She especially shines in a scene in which she finds out Pepper had the local kingpin dead to rights and let him drive away in hopes of landing a bigger fish. "That was Agent Cooper's call," she tells Johnson, "and it was the right one." Then, a second later, after Johnson's left the room, she turns to Cooper: "What the fuck were you thinking?"

An actor to watch is Jon Bernthal, who plays Daniel Cruz, a two-strike ex-con working at Johnson's company and trying to stay on the straight and narrow. Johnson comes to him offering $20,000 for an "introduction." Bernthal has the look, the sound, the mannerisms of this man down pat. It's a performance that's lived-in good.

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