2013 will be The Year of The Rock. With G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Fast Six, Pain and Gain and this week's new release Snitch, four movies this year will star the most charismatic and talented professional wrestler to make the jump from wrestling superstar to action movie superstar. It's a move that guys like Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper and others have tried, but haven't been nearly as successful.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson brings something different to the table. He's been a relentless bounty hunter, an ultraviolent assassin and even a family-friendly tooth fairy. He's played nearly every type of action movie archetype except an everyman who's in the wrong place at the wrong time. While his role in Snitch isn't a true wrong-place/wrong-time character, it might be the closest we ever get because he is, after all, an intimidatingly huge man.
Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) is a normal everyday kid who makes a really dumb mistake when he lets his drug-dealing best friend mail him a package of Ecstasy. When he's caught, he learns the hard way about the minimum sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenders. He's offered a deal to reduce his sentence if he can provide information that leads to more drug arrests, but he won't send anyone up the river, even though that's exactly what happened to him.
When Jason's estranged father John Matthews (Johnson) finds out, he wants to do anything he can to help his son, and offers to use his construction business to go undercover and infiltrate the drug trade to help his son get a reduced sentence. He gets way more than he bargained for when he ends up working directly with a major player in a Mexican drug cartel, and he has to figure out a way to shorten his sons prison sentence, while keeping himself and his family safe.
Snitch is a double-edged sword of a film. The role of John Matthews doesn't seem to fit Dwayne Johnson, but he does a fantastic job playing the role of the concerned father who hasn't always been there for his son. The moments he shares with his son in the prison visitors' booths are great and even kind of moving. But it feels as though if almost any other actor were placed in this role, it'd be just as if not more believable.
Snitch is also light on the action scenes and heavy on the cheesy and confusing writing. It's made clear at the beginning of the movie that Jason has been set up by his friend, and when it's obvious that he doesn't have connections that can lead to arrest, prosecutors ask if he can set anyone up, and that just doesn't make sense at all because there's no way it can lead to high-end arrests. All of the real action in the movie takes place in the third act within a ten-minute sequence that is fantastically shot, but doesn't make for a true action film.
The Rock is a great actor -- if you take a look at his entire body of work, there's no doubt that this is a fact. Snitch puts him in a role we've never really seen before, but maybe we didn't really need to see him as a regular Everyman. Luckily, he pulls it off admirably, and with a better script this could have been a great film instead of an average but mostly forgettable film. Let's hope that Fast Six, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Pain and Gain will be better entries into his filmography.