As close as a movie can come to being recommendable while not quite getting it all together, this crime drama falls frustratingly short of turning into something striking. The premise, while based on a true story, is beyond ludicrous—a decent dad (Dwayne Johnson) turns drug trafficker and informant to plea down his college-bound son’s maximum jail sentence—but the movie is shot in such a gritty, class-conscious style that you almost buy it. The characters’ economic desperation is palpable, and you thrill to some utterly believable supporting turns from The Wire’s Michael K. Williams (scary local dealer), Susan Sarandon (politically ambitious prosecutor) and Barry Pepper (bearded, wizened narc). But our leading man is too physically inflated, too earnest, too much of a walking caricature to be persuasive. Snitch is a movie that cries out for the wiry B stars of yore: Robert Forster, a younger Tommy Lee Jones. And it would have occurred to a craftier screenwriter to make his hero’s walk on the criminal wild side a touch more tempting.
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