Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Jon Bernthal, Barry Pepper
Plot: A father goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in drug deal.
Rating: NC16 for drug content and sequences of violence.
IN RETROSPECT (Guest reviewed by Jason Lin)
Big and tough is the general impression one gets from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and the films starring him. From a wrestling superstar to a silver screen macho hero, Johnson is always standing tall with his fists upon those against him. Rarely is the case where the contrary takes place, where four random street junkies pummel Johnson down to the ground without a fight.
For a pleasant change, Johnson doesn’t spoil a film.
He plays John Matthews, a father who is desperate to rescue his arraigned son Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) for being framed by his best friend’s drug delivery to him that was meant to help the sender reduce his drug trafficking sentence. Within minutes of receipt, Collins is chased profusely by law enforcers and put behind bars facing up to thirty years of jail time.
Exploiting a law enforcement scheme loophole that helps junkies reduce their sentence by ratting out their fellow drug dealer (thus the film title), Collins finds no one within his social circle for such reason and admirably stays firm despite being physically picked upon in prison. Matthews decides to dirty his hands instead and offers US Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon) his help to enable an arrest of a drug dealer.
One may expect the next scene to showcase Matthews performing heroic gun-slinging crackdowns against vicious criminals like an invincible cowboy. Director and co-writer Ric Roman Waugh however depicts otherwise with Matthews working like an average Joe (albeit tall and muscular) who displays signs of anxiety and uncertainty in his demeanor and readily surrendering his hands up when facing a loaded pistol.
Possibly Johnson’s most earnest performance to date, he takes on a new dimension and breaks away from his macho image and breaks down before viewers. Risk can be greatly felt throughout Johnson’s negotiation of the drug world, from his novice attempt to contact street junkies to finding armed punks waiting at home along with his terrorized family.
Indeed an implausible story (supposedly inspired by true events) that casts a bad light upon the structured legislation, coercing despondent civilians to join in the dangerous war against drugs, the film surprisingly focuses more on the drama over action. But fret not, as action does explode in two or three key scenes in the second half of the film.
Rating: 3 stars
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