'Snitch' entertaining, thrilling

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:53 PM ET

Snitch is a decent little crime thriller that pokes into some of the uglier nooks and crannies of the mandatory minimum laws for drug offences.

A teenager (Rafi Gavron) whose address is used for a drug delivery finds himself facing 10 years in prison when he's falsely accused of being part of the crime. The only way he can reduce his sentence is to lead the DEA to a bigger fish, but his innocence makes this impossible -- he doesn't know anybody involved in the drug world.

His father, John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) decides to help get the boy out of prison with a unique deal -- he'll lead detectives to a big drug dealer, and the federal prosecutor (Susan Sarandon) will get his son out of jail in less than a year.

The story, unlikely as it sounds, is based on real events.

This leaves John Matthews to infiltrate the drug world, a job he undertakes with the help of an employee with a criminal past (Jon Bernthal).

Matthews owns a trucking company; he can provide transportation services to a drug dealer he meets through his connection, and after a white-knuckle experience in the world o' crime, it looks as if Matthews has fulfilled his part of the bargain.

But the prosecutor wants more. Why settle for a local dealer when you can get a cartel grand fromage? Matthews has so impressed a drug kingpin (Benjamin Bratt) that he gets hired to drive contraband into Mexico, and the war-on-drugs prosecutor couldn't be happier about it.

After a sympathetic detective tells Matthews the cartel boss will likely kill him when the Mexico job is done, our hero decides to take matters into his own hands. He won't be the puppet of the DEA or the victim of the ruthless drug lords. He will, however, drive a massive truck with reckless abandon and make many bad guys crash their cars, and those sequences are worth the price of admission.

Snitch has some terrific action sequences, although it's not, strictly speaking, an action movie. This is a sharp-edged drama about some of the less attractive elements of law and order, and Johnson does a good job of conveying a father's desperation to help his son. The movie builds tension around the risks Johnson's character takes, and there are some powerful edge-of-your-seat moments in the storytelling. On the other hand, nobody in the criminal crowd seems quite menacing or cold-blooded enough -- or even three-dimensional -- but so long as you're not a stickler for verisimilitude, Snitch is a worthy way to spend a few hours at the movies.


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