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Snitch (2013)

Lionsgate
4K UHD Released: 6/6/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/7/2017

When Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson made his big feature film debut in 2001's The Mummy Returns, it felt like a gimmick. Of course, hire the professional wrestler to play the big villain, don't worry about his dialogue, and everything will be fine. (Oh, and then throw some monumentally bad CGI at him for good measure.) It didn't take long for his movie career to take off and he soon dropped "The Rock" from his name, as he moved from genre to genre. Within a decade of his debut, he was a bona fide movie star. So, when the Dwayne Johnson film Snitch showed up on my doorstep to be reviewed, my wife asked, "Is that a new movie?" I informed her that it was from 2013. Her next question was a logical one -- why hadn't we heard of this movie?

Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) agrees to hold some drugs for a friend. However, when the package is delivered to his house, the place is suddenly swarming with DEA agents and Jason is taken into custody. His father, John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson), a successful businessman, leaps into action in order to help his son. He learns that Jason was set up by a friend who was already in DEA custody so that the friend could get a reduced sentence. If Jason can help lead to another arrest, he will also receive leniency. But, as Jason doesn't know anyone else in the world of crime, John decides that he will take care of this himself. He approaches federal attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) with a proposition -- If he can help her land a big drug bust, she will let Jason go. She agrees and with the help of one of his employees (Jon Bernthal), John attempts to infiltrate the underworld. But he soon learns that he's out of his elements, as drug lords play for keeps.

By 2013, Johnson had built quite a resume with movies, and in those movies, he played basically two roles -- tough guys or tough guys who were funny. In short, he was either breaking bones, or breaking bones and telling jokes. While he has certainly become a box-office draw and arguably a movie star, most people probably didn't see him as an actor. It's pretty clear that he wanted to tackle those notions with Snitch. While John is certainly a "take charge" kind of guy, this is definitely a different role for Johnson. He shows some vulnerability and even gets beat up at one point. Despite the fact that Johnson is still a the size of The Rock, John wants to avoid violence and stick to the system in order to help Jason. Johnson actually does a good job of emoting and showing a certain amount of controlled rage.

So, let's go back to my wife's question -- Why hadn't we heard of this movie? One of the reasons may relate to the previous paragraph. Perhaps Johnson's fans had no interest in seeing him play a different role. Again, he'd become star playing guys who either didn't take any crap or who knew how to take a joke. Snitch is a decidedly humorous movie and while John certainly gives into the action in the finale, he spends most of the movie talking. Sometimes "give the people what they want" is a maxim which should be followed. Again, I applaud Johnson for wanting to branch out, but maybe this wasn't the movie for this.

And why isn't this the movie? That has to do with how Snitch somehow presents us with an original story, and yet feels incredibly cliched. The plot focuses on the drug laws in the United States and how possession of just a small amount of a controlled substance can result in a mandatory prison sentence. This is news to John (as it will be to most viewers) and he has to find a way to fight it. So, he becomes a vigilante...but, he's a legally approved vigilante. From there, John stretches the law to infiltrate the drug world in order to help apprehend a criminal. But, this idea, which should yield a movie with an original feel, instead results in a film that plays like a retread. Other than Johnson's performance and the information concerning mandatory drug sentences, most of Snitch is over-familiar and brings no surprises. Even some of the "twists" in the third act left me feeling cold. The final result of Snitch is a film which contains familiar faces, but could easily be yet another straight-to-cable action movie.

Snitch never explains why the construction company has big-rig trucks on 4K UHD courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the UHD contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 70 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no obvious grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look realistic and the image is never overly dark or bright. The daytime scenes show a nice crispness and the level of detail is impressive. The depth is effective and the picture is never flat. The UHD carries a Dolby Atmos (7.1) audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. A good deal of Snitch falls more into the drama category and these scenes offer adequate, but not overwhelming sound. The two big action sequences deliver impressive surround and subwoofer effects, most notably during the finale. These effects offer deep bass and detailed sound from the rear speakers.

The Snitch 4K UHD contains a few extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Co-Writer/Director Rick Roman Waugh and Editor Jonathan Chibnall. "Privileged Information: The Making of Snitch" (50 minutes) is a very detailed featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers. The piece looks at the actors and characters, as well as the story. It also takes us on-set to glimpse the production. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes. A brand-new scene here shows Jason with his girlfriend, who is only mentioned in the movie. The final extra is a THEATRICAL TRAILER.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long