Hollywood’s handling of the career of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been fascinating to watch. Upon making his feature film acting debut in 2000’s The Mummy Returns, it was clear that the former WWE World Champion brought the same amount of charisma that the big screen as he had used to catapult himself to become one of the most popular stars in wrestling history; the problem has always been the inability to turn him into the role he was seemingly born to play: his generation’s Ahnold or Sly.
In Snitch, Johnson plays John Matthews, a successful businessman torn from his comfortable life by his son’s arrest for distribution of narcotics. Even though this is the kid’s first offence, the boy is looking at serving ten years in prison due to mandatory minimum sentencing for drug trafficking. Attempting to cut a deal with the Feds in order to spring his son, John offers to work undercover to ensnare local drug dealers. His plan works a little too well, and soon his family is being threatened by Mexican drug cartel members.
What should be a fairly simple action revenge tale is held back by its “based on true events” origins. Now, I have no idea what the real story is here; it’s probably safe to say that one of the filmmakers heard a story about someone getting busted for dealing drugs and here we are. The failure here is that by attempting to bring reality into a film that begs for a 30 minute shoot-out action sequence, we are left with a middling family drama with an awkward moral calling for leniency toward felons.
Johnson does a solid job with the material given to him, and its understandable why he would sign on to the film, but his is just one of several roles miscast. He is playing a father throwing himself into a world of drugs and violence, and his attempts to portray a man frightened by the people he surrounds himself with land with a thud of failure. Audiences waiting for Johnson’s first great role will only be left with disappointment once again after watching Snitch.