You know what the funniest thing in the whole movie was? Seeing the words “based on true events” in the beginning. Oh come on! Enough of this already. This is the year the Oscars is being talked about for having real stories with fictional elements (Zero Dark Thirty, Argo and Lincoln, to name three). Just give us the action picture. You got Dwayne “the actor formerly known as Rock” Johnson driving trucks and taking names. Give us explosions and him smacking people around. Instead, they try to give us clichéd, preachy dialogue about drug laws for first time dealers – and it becomes a muddled mess.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t enjoying some of it. Barry Pepper was excellent, and I’d love to see an Oscar nomination next year for Best Supporting Facial Hair. Oh, and Benjamin Bratt makes an appearance as a drug kingpin named El Topo. I believe that’s Spanish for “hair piece.”
This is all supposedly based on an episode of Frontline. A contruction company owner offers to go undercover to nail drug dealers, if this means a reduced prison sentence for his 18-year-old son (Rafi Gavron). Talk about winning Father of the Year. That kid really needs to get that “World’s Greatest Dad” mug for pops; if he ever gets out of jail.
The kid is looking at 10 years for receiving a package filled with Ecstasy, but refuses to snitch on any of his friends or set any of them up. Even though that means it will lessen his sentence. Dad doesn’t mind being a snitch. Not only that, dad does something that makes me dislike his character. He puts his new wife and daughter in jeopardy by doing this, and worse – he takes one of his workers and potentially ruins his life. After sifting through applications to find one that did jail time for drugs, he takes this hard working guy and tells him he wants to use his trucks for deliveries. The guy wants no part of it. He’s working hard and trying to make something of himself. Sooooo…why are we rooting for the Rock in this scenario? Because his idiotic kid made a bad decision, and now he’s making a series of them?
The movie gave us a couple of those goofy computer scenes we see in movies now. One is when a person walks in (in this case, his mom), and you don’t want them to see what you’re looking at on your computer. So you immediately slam it shut. As if that’s not more obvious then if you just click a different screen. The other scene is when Rock goes online to find out just what these drug dealers are all about. So we see the Wikipedia page on drugs and cartels. I wonder if when he started his successful trucking business, he Googled “18-wheelers.”
Oh, and we get the snotty prosecutor who is running for office. She’s played by Susan Sarandon, and we’re supposed to hate her for not feeling sympathy for a guy whose adult son got into a mess. And the fact that she doesn’t have any kids. You evil woman, you! I’m guessing if anyone of us heard about an 18-year-old having drugs sent to his house, and a prosecutor not lightening the sentence for him – we wouldn’t care. Yet watching the movie, you’re supposed to be furious at Sarandon for not helping the guy out. His big solution is turning into a Rambo on the streets and catching drug dealers. Yeah, getting shot or beat up doing that wouldn’t open the biggest can of worms Sarandon has ever seen.
There are a few scenes that worked well. I liked seeing Rock stop his truck and help an employee that was working off the clock, and the conversation they have. It was written well, and had the feel of an employee being comfortable enough to ask for a raise in a playful way.
There were some local drug dealers that lived in a house that seemed perfectly authentic. It wasn’t some huge mansion, just a crappy 3 bedroom 2 bath, that looks like it was build in ’72. Also looked like 8 people lived there.
The movie needed more touches like that, instead of goofball scenes where Rock says “Nobody will determine our fates” as he stands in a gun shop checking out the merchandise (and besides, isn’t there a waiting period on buying guns?)
I could forgive the social commentary garbage the movie was throwing at me, because it’s just a cheesy action picture when it’s all said and done. I can’t forgive it for not giving me more action, explosions, and cool stunts.
And please, stop already with the shaky camera. I almost barfed early in the movie it was so bad.
Oh, and when the drug cartel was cutting up bags of cement to hide the cocaine inside – how hard would it have been to give the Rock a line like “Now that’s a way to get ‘stoned’.”
This movie gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.