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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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Pedro de San José Betancur: Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002. Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala. 
<p>Calling the new saint an “outstanding example” of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that St. Pedro practiced mercy “heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.” Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change. </p><p>“Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness,” he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy. </p><p>Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line that the Franciscans had established. </p><p>Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent. </p><p>Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion. </p><p>He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve <i>posadas</i> procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. </p><p>Pedro was canonized in 2002.</p> American Catholic Blog We sometimes try to do everything on our own, forgetting that the Lord wants to help us. Let's never be afraid to admit that we are weak and can't do things on our own. St. Paul gives us a great example: "On my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses" (2 Corinthians 12:5).


 
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