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Based on the poster alone for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s newest movie Snitch (which is crazy similar to the one for his 2010 film Faster), you would think that it’s another in-your-face, blow em’ up action film. But this isn’t the case. Snitch is more of a dramatic thriller than anything else. And while it may not hit all the right notes, the movie proves to surprisingly entertaining and well-paced.

Johnson plays John Matthews, whose estranged teenage son Jason (Rafi Gavron) is framed for taking part in a major drug distribution scheme. Jason is sentenced to ten years in prison, and gets merciless daily beatings from other inmates. Desperate to help is his son, John makes a deal to become an undercover informant on a major drug cartel in exchange for a reduced sentence for Jason. This of course comes with a cost, putting his family and himself at risk. He also recruits ex-con Daniel James (Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal) to help get in with the major drug lords. The problem is that Daniel is trying to get his life together with his own family after his troubled past, and this is the last place he wants to be.

The movie works best as a breezy thriller with something to say about our legal system. But it’s never preachy, and never loses sight of where it’s going. It’s straight to the point, and shows that you don’t need explosions every five minutes to keep an audience’s interest. It’s clichéd, to be sure, and there are few eyeroll-inducing Hallmark-like lines, but it dodges the camp factor by staging itself in a realistic world where the leading man is not a superhuman who can jump off rooftops or lie his way effortlessly through an interrogation.

Kudos to Johnson for choosing a role where he isn’t an unstoppable killing machine (Faster, Walking Tall) or a wacky family-friendly goofball (Game Plan, Tooth Fairy). His character is deeply flawed and isn’t suited for this type of work. He can barely shoot, has never had a gun pointed at him, and is not properly trained to fight. And while this is hopefully a baby step towards Johnson getting more serious acting roles, it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine that this guy has zero fighting skills. The character seems to be written as an average Joe, and Johnson doesn’t fit that mold. It’s hard to separate the character from the actor, or at least the persona he has formed. Even Bruce Willis can pull off softer roles where he dials it down or transforms himself (Moonrise Kingdom, Death Becomes Her).

The rest of the cast is works fine. It’s an ensemble of who’s who from TV and film that goes from Susan Sarandon as a cold attorney to Benjamin Bratt as a drug lord. There are also appearances by The Wire’s Michael K. Williams and Revolution’s JD Pardo. And Barry Pepper is doing his best Dog the Bounty Hunter impression. But the real heart and soul of this film is Bernthal, trying to make amends for his past by bringing up his son properly.

Snitch is a mixed bag, juggling different genres, yet keeping most of them afloat. It’s no breakthrough, and pretty lightweight, but it offers some decent entertainment. Credit must be given where credit is due – while it won’t get any standing ovations, the story keeps interest for a well-paced ninety minutes. And if you want your Rock with more action, you will have plenty of that when G.I. Joe 2 and Fast and Furious 6 are released in the upcoming months.