In Snitch, Dwayne “You Probably Still Call Me ‘The Rock’” Johnson plays John “Can You Think of a More Generic Character Name?” Matthews, a father who volunteers to help bring down a drug lord in order to get a hard-nosed U.S. Attorney (Susan Sarandon. Yes, that Susan Sarandon) to reduce the prison sentence facing his teenage son, who was arrested for holding a package of the drug ecstasy for a friend.
Five lessons from the film, which was “inspired by true events”:
1. There’s no shame in being a snitch.
Matthews and his ex-wife implore their son to rat out any other drug dealers he knows in order to reduce his jail time. When he tells them he doesn’t know any, they urge him to set somebody up to get arrested. When he insists that he’s not going to do something so under-handed just to save his own skin, they are flabbergasted. What kind of morally admirable monster of a child have they raised?
2. Want to bust a drug dealer? Wikipedia is the place to start.
Desperate to do anything to get his son out of jail, Matthews sits down in front of his computer and searches the term “drug cartel” on everybody’s favorite crowd-sourced encyclopedia. For some reason the article inspires him to jump in his truck, drive to the bad side of town, and attempt to video-record himself buying cocaine from a guy standing on a street corner. He ends up getting beaten up and mugged (despite being, you know, The Rock), so perhaps that’s a lesson better forgotten.
3. The Wire was really good.
Michael K. Williams plays Malik, the local drug kingpin that Matthews goes after. Michael K. Williams also played Omar on the acclaimed HBO series The Wire. Watching the drug deals and drug busts go down in this movie is a great reminder about the quality of that TV show.
4. When setting your mind to a goal, pay no attention to however many lives you’ll ruin in the process.
All that matters for Matthews is getting his son out of jail. He cajoles ex-con Daniel (Jon Bernthal), who works at the construction company he owns, into introducing him to local drug kingpin Malik, though Daniel will likely end up dead after the sting operation goes down. Matthews plows ahead even after he knows that Malik knows where his family lives. He continues to do the government’s bidding once the ruthless head of the cartel (Benjamin Bratt) gets personally involved and asks him to drive a truckload of drug money to Mexico. Matthews and his family will probably all die — or at least have to go into hiding for the rest of their lives — but at least his son will get out of prison.
5. The Rock isn’t just an action star.
Aside from one short car chase, and one bullet-riddled drug ambush, there’s hardly any action at all in Snitch. And Dwayne Johnson is undoubtedly the star.