Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays somewhat against type in Snitch, a drama that wants to crusade against mandatory minimum drug sentences, but can't quite make the supposedly fact-based story gel effectively despite a solid cast.
The Rock is a small businessman, running a trucking and construction business when his teenaged son from a previous marriage is busted after receiving a box full of Ecstasy pills from his best friend. It turns out the Feds had caught the friend while shipping the pills and in order to reduce his sentence, he set up Sonny Boy. Unfortunately, Sonny can't try the same gambit because the only person he knew with drugs was the one who screwed him over. His son facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and getting beaten in jail frightens The Rock into taking desperate measures and he offers the prosecutor (Susan Sarandon) a deal: If he can go out and find drug dealers, she'll have his sentence reduced. (This is also a plot problem, if judges hands are tied, but prosecutors have so much leeway in charging, why send first-time offender dumb kids away for a dime when they clearly aren't kingpins?)
With no knowledge of the underworld, he combs through his employee's applications until he discovers one (Jon Bernthal, Shane from The Walking Dead) with two convictions for drug trafficking. Shane's trying to avoid getting his third strike and failing his wife and young son, but gets sucked into introducing Rock to a former drug dealing pal who tests him by having him run a small shipment from Missouri to El Paso, which then attracts the attention of a Major Drug Kingpin who has Big Plans for The Rock.
Snitch is a mixed bag because while the script is subtle in some spots, it's ham-handed and soapboxy in others, as when the son's lawyer walks up and immediately rattles off a bunch of factoids about mandatory minimum laws. Also, the leap from a small-time dealer to a kingpin is instantaneous and not credible. A better aspect is how they initially reveal Sarandon's prosecutor is running for higher office by having a campaign poster unobtrusively in the background of a scene. The climax feels tacked on to throw a bone to people who were wondering when The Rock was going to get into some action and reminded me of Jason Statham in The Bank Job at the end when he's suddenly beating the crap out of some guys. The ending is also unsatisfying because the good guys have to live in fear forever for what they did. Huh?
The Rock does OK with a primarily dramatic role, but his physicality wars against the story of a desperate father trying to help his son. When he's getting beaten up by some street toughs, my girlfriend exclaimed, "They're beating up The Rock?!" While not as jacked as he is in say the Fast & Furious movies, it's still hard to believe he doesn't just go in and tear bad guys in half.
Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable.