Welcome to Vol. 5 of It Came From Netflix. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Writer: Justin Haythe, Ric Roman Waugh
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, John Bernthal
Based on true events, Snitch, a gritty crime drama starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, tells the story of a father willing to do anything he can to save his son. After taking delivery of a package filled with illegal drugs, John turns to the unknown to save his son from thirty years in jail, abiding the minimum sentence law for first offenders for a non-violent, drug related crime. His journey takes him from the mayor’s office to the seedy underbelly of the city, and back again.
The first thing I was struck by was just how nice the film looked. Lighting and production here is beautiful, and although we mostly only see interiors and cars, everything is gorgeous to look at, albeit with a very beige colour palette. However, camera work is truly woeful. Whilst the more sedate, mundane sections of the film are filmed competently, action scenes adopt the now incredibly trendy wobble-cam effect. This isn’t a criticism of the method of filming, but here, I was fighting motion sickness. Half of the time, the camera drives any action off the screen, forcing you to figure out what’s going on in a blur. It took away from the enjoyment some of the action scenes had. As well as this, the soundtrack here is distracting and incredibly jarring. This time however, in the more sentimental sections of the piece, we’re treated to a slowly played spanish guitar with some orchestral backing. It’s all incredibly cheesy, too loud in the mix and takes any intensity out of emotional scenes.
Speaking of emotional scenes, the film is littered with them, but none of them are any good. Every scene just feels incredibly phoned in, and there to provide another reason for The Rock to look good or fatherly. After all, that’s all the film is. The plot seen here is not only very cliché, but extremely far fetched and unbelievable. Usually, this isn’t something that would bother me at all, but when presented with a ‘realistic, gritty crime drama’ I take issue. It’s hard to talk about the film, because it’s just so mediocre. Middle of the road muscle & guns drama. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good points to the thing. The film moves along at a breakneck pace, but rarely loses any coherency. Whilst it nears two hours in length, it’s entertaining on a very basic level. That didn’t stop me getting incredibly bored on several occasions, tempting me to just fiddle with my phone instead. I also take issue with the fact that in the UK the film carries a 12 rating, which I feel is much too low for a film with such a subject matter. Not only is it innapropriate, but it left me thinking that if they’d pushed it back to a 15, we could have had something a little more interesting.
Talking about cast and performances would be pretty useless at this point, right? Well, there are a few good performances hidden amongst the dull action. Dwayne Johnson puts in a pretty good showing, but co-star Jon Bernthal really stands out here, despite his character being a walking cliché in itself. Susan Sarandon also shines here, as per usual. The rest is mediocre or downright bad. Special mention should be given to Nadine Velazquez, who made every second of her screen time painful.
So, did I like Snitch? I gave the film a lot of crap here, but in reality that’s because it’s just impossible to critique to any point of meaningful worth. It’s competently put together, but it just stands out to me as another part of the problem Netflix faces. I know they didn’t MAKE the thing, but there are hundreds of identical movies on there. Unfortunately, this seems to extend to the movie business in general. Should you watch Snitch? I guess the real question is, why?