Though Snitch loudly announces itself as a social-issues movie, its nominal outrage over the severity of our nation’s sentencing laws for first-time drug offenders is quickly subsumed by a jacked-up narrative of a father going to extremes to save his son. Inspired by a real-life incident detailed in a 1999 episode of Frontline, the film tracks construction-company magnate John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) as he offers to go undercover to nab drug dealers in exchange for a reduced prison sentence for his estranged 18-year-old son, Jason (Rafi Gavron). The teenager, still apparently smarting over his parents’ divorce, faces 10 years in jail for accepting a package filled with Ecstasy and refuses to concoct evidence against a friend to lessen his time behind bars. In order to assuage the hurt he’s caused his firstborn, John, after reading the Wikipedia entry for “drug cartel,” first has closed-door meetings with a federal prosecutor (Susan Sarandon)—her villainy signaled by both her childlessness and a snide remark about gay weddings—then drives 1,000 miles in a semi containing mountains of coke secreted in cement bags. As the plot grows more and more absurd—Benjamin Bratt shows up as a drug kingpin named “El Topo”—Snitch reveals another kind of political agenda. After telling his co-conspirator in the blow setup that “there’s no way I’m going to let either side dictate our fates,” John stands in a gun shop, coolly assessing the arsenal that’s his for the taking.