Mr. Movie

Snitch: It's too unbelievable to be good

Pacing is critical for action flicks, and a snoozy first half snatches all of the energy out of Snitch. "Inspired" by a true story, a construction contractor's kid gets a package of dope from a friend and is busted. Mandatory minimum sentencing means he does 10 years in the pen unless he snitches on someone like someone snitched on him.

The boy refuses. To get the kid a reduced sentence, contractor dad decides to do it himself and bust some drug-dealing heavies. It's an amateur sleuth vs. a powerful drug cartel.

Dwayne Johnson is the dad. Other known actors co-starring are Susan Sarandon as the federal prosecutor, Barry Pepper as a drug-busting agent and Benjamin Bratt, who plays the cartel head. The only honest performance in a very bad movie comes from the very interesting Jon Bernthal (TV's The Walking Dead).

The normally charismatic Johnson moves through the movie like a piece of wood while tossing off dumb line after dumb cliche line from writer/director Ric Roman Waugh's awful screenplay. Waugh -- by the way -- did stunts for a couple of decades before writing and directing movie duds you've never heard of.

What usually helps Johnson with his characters is a dose of good humor. He's best doing comedy and should leave serious acting to others. This is not to say Snitch's multitude of failures is totally his fault.

Out of the gate, Snitch struggles to find solid footing. Waugh and co-writer Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road) take an hour for the set-up, and the action that is supposed to be the payoff is predictable. The concept, too, is unbelievably badly thought out. Johnson's John Matthews talks Bernthal's ex-con employee into introducing him to a nasty gangster and drug dealer. Matthews takes a recorder into the meeting and records the conversation.

C'mon. A move like that in real life would leave the guy deader than this movie.

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Barry Pepper, Benjamin Bratt, Jon Bernthal

Mr. Movie rating: 1 star

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some language and violence. It is playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.