Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Benjamin Bratt, Barry Pepper. Crime drama. Written by Justin Haythe and Ric Roman Waugh. Directed by Ric Roman Waugh.
FILM SYNOPSIS: In this fast-paced action thriller, Dwayne Johnson stars as a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. (Wrongly accused? The boyís drug trafficking buddy sends him drugs to hold and hide for a day.) Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, papa makes a deal with the U.S. attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission -- risking everything, including his family and his own life.
PREVIEW REVIEW: Right is wrong, and wrong is right. Doesnít it sometimes seem thatís the direction Hollywood, our culture and our society are redirecting? The whole point of this film is to state at its completion that our drug laws against first-time offenders are too stringent. I kid you not, thatís the message.
Getting ready to head off to college, the protagonistís son is busted for accepting and holding onto a box load of heroine mailed to him by his best friend. I had a hard time with that. Though his parents keep professing that their son is a good boy, I kept wondering why heís best friends with a drug pusher.
Now, before I go on, I must confess to being dumber than a bagful of hammers in the past, the present and probably the future when it comes to many things. Iíve made terrible mistakes going down lifeís road, which detours me from passing judgment on the folly of others. And quite honestly, having grown up amid the peace-and-love generation, it can only be out of Godís grace and protection that I never got into drug use. Iíve never even smoked a joint. (Not my wisdom, for it has always been in short supply.) But then I wasnít hanging out with people who did. Oh, I grew up in the theater, so I imagine many of my fellow matriculating thespians were imbibing, but my close friends werenít.
As I grew older, despite the mistakes I was making (and donít you just wish you knew what they were), and therefore cautious about passing judgment on others, I always held with contempt those who profited by means of drugs. Because they wanted money, they sold drugs to others either not knowing or not caring that the improper use of narcotics could damage lives Ė forever. And the fact that the sale and use of certain drugs were against the law, the thinking was, well, thatís just something to get around.
I once heard that the first time you get high on heroine, itís unlike any feeling youíve ever had. But youíll spend the rest of your life searching and not finding that same euphoria. Well, dumber that a bagful of hammers or not, that didnít sound like a good tradeoff to me. By the way, is that true? Any crack heads out there?
I canít tell you how often Iíve seen movies with lead characters smoking pot, aware that it was against the law, but because it was a law they found archaic, they broke it. In other words, they would keep the laws they approved of and dismiss those they didnít. Right is wrong and wrong is right.
By now you are wondering if we shall ever get to something resembling a film review. Sadly, most theatrical releases offered up to unsuspecting cinefiles during the months of January and February are review-proof. Usually lacking any substance or style, they just bang away at our senses. The cineplex becomes a dumping ground by studio heads who just a couple of months before were shuffling out Oscar contenders by the boatload.
Anybody really buy Dwayne ďthe RockĒ Johnson as the owner of a construction company? Looking like Yul Brynner on steroids, one wonders when the Rockís character can take time away from the gym to run his business. But whether or not you are impressed by Mr. Johnsonís acting prowess, the film is more about reflecting our changing times than presenting movie entertainment full of artistic merit. So, allow me to finish my analysis of the culture in place of dissecting this actioneer. (Uh, just this once.)
I look around and find states are justifying the sale of marijuana. Why? Because they want the sales tax revenues, dummy. That trumps the debate on cause and effect of pot use. State legislatures are just now catching up to the sentiment found in most movie star dressing rooms.
Back to the film, momentarily. Two things just downright annoyed me about this film, which will no doubt please the producers. First, Mr. Johnson and others, most of the others, profane Godís name throughout. Though the Rock is the filmís good guy, when I hear the protagonist utter ďGod dÖĒ several times, I associate his otherwise good nature with a secular perspective on life: ďI can be good without God.Ē Well, maybe thatís so, but the filmmakers are going out of their way to portray secularism as the new righteousness. Uttering ďG..dÖĒ is irreverence to our Creator. Or at least it used to be. Right is wrong and wrong is right.
My other point of contention; we have Susan Sarandon, who like fellow citizens of Tinseltown Barbra Streisand and Ed Harris, takes her liberal activism very seriously, here giddily portraying a politician in a negative light. Hmmm, which party could her character be a member of? She wears a flag button in her lapel, and a cross necklace around her neck, and she is seen campaigning outside a Baptist church. And wouldnít you know it, her character is someone we canít trust, and, sheís a jerk. And though she gets the job done, she represents everything we are supposed to detest in a politician. Unbeknownst to Hollywoodland, that type of politician can be found on both sides of the aisle.
Well, thatís what I got out of the film. Iím sure some could say it was an effective action drama, with positive statements about a fatherís love. And it can be said that it portrays those in the drug-trading community to be a soulless and dangerous bunch. But I just kept thinking about how things once thought to be right (here, the busting of any and all drug pushers), is now too harsh. Right is wrong and wrong is right.