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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Snitch

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Dwayne Johnson and Melina Kanakaredes star in a scene from the movie "Snitch."
How should society balance the government's need to combat drug use—and its attendant evils—against the right of a citizen to be judged and punished according to the individual circumstances of his or her case?

If the fact-based film "Snitch" (Summit) is any evidence, the current use of mandatory sentences as a weapon in narcotics cases has those two competing interests thoroughly off-kilter.

Director and co-writer (with Justin Haythe) Ric Roman Waugh invites us to sympathize with the fate of naive suburban teen Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron). After he foolishly agrees to accept delivery of a shipment of illegal pills on behalf of a friend, Jason is promptly busted and faces a compulsory 10 years behind bars.

The only path to a lesser doom is to testify successfully against others, something Jason's so-called pal is already doing to him. But, since Jason has no real involvement in the world of drugs, he can only obtain mercy by entrapping people. Despite encouragement from his lawyer to pursue this option, with admirable fortitude, Jason refuses.

Jason's divorced and estranged father, John (Dwayne Johnson), however, is not ready to give in so easily. Guilt-ridden over his neglect of the lad, John struggles to come up with a solution to Jason's dilemma.

John's persistence eventually convinces Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon), the federal attorney prosecuting Jason's case, to make a deal with him: If John can infiltrate a local narcotics cartel and garner sufficient evidence to convict its boss, a petty hood named Malik (Michael K. Williams), she'll reduce Jason's time.

John has already been given an introduction to Malik by one of the employees of his successful trucking business, ex-con Daniel James (Jon Bernthal).

Daniel's situation is almost as poignant as Jason's: Despite his past, he's a dedicated husband and father determined to make a fresh start through honest work. But, with Jason's prospects worsening rapidly—he's repeatedly beaten by his tougher fellow inmates—John successfully wears Daniel down, convincing him to revisit his former life long enough to make the connection with Malik.

John then uses his fleet of vehicles as a lure, pointing out to Malik the advantages they would offer in transporting large cargoes of illicit goods.

Waugh enhances the action that follows with continued human drama and social commentary. The latter element gives rise to some clunky dialogue, especially from Joanne. Yet the overall result is both suspenseful and morally rich.

The damaging effects of divorce, the ethical and physical courage displayed, respectively, by Jason and John, the moving spirit of reconciliation and mutual forgiveness between father and son—all add heft to what might otherwise have been an easily dismissed series of shootouts and car chases.

The film contains much stylized and some graphic violence, including gunplay and a beating, mature themes, about a half-dozen uses of profanity and considerable crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.





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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog A hero isn’t someone born with unconquerable strength and selflessness. Heroes are not formed in a cataclysmic instant. Heroism is developed over time, one decision after another, moment by moment, formed by a deliberate, chosen, and habitual response to life.

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