“Inspired by true events,” reads the opening title card of the oddly engrossing new thriller Snitch
, written and directed by Ric Roman Waugh. The earliest scenes, while never what you’d call realistic, establish a premise essentially recognizable. Some kids fall victim to dopey choices and abysmal luck landing a teenager in federal custody after signing for a buddy’s ecstasy shipment. But as the unlikely tumbles into the improbable and crashes into the lunatic, a disregard for parameters of the real seems less fanciful than arrogant. U.S. attorneys would not encourage successful family men with political connections to play undercover supercop. Midwestern business owners can’t learn the basics of narcotic trafficking online, pick out the right flavor of ex-con already under payroll and leap upward to the inner circle of a Mexican cartel. All things considered, the unrelenting tone of high seriousness imposed on spiraling implausibilities would have proven unbearable with anyone besides Dwayne Johnson playing the lead. In the closest he’s yet come to a strictly dramatic role, with eyebrows affixed at half mast and alien physicality buried beneath leisure wear, the Rock still bears only the slightest resemblance to actual people. As de facto straight man sharing the screen with Barry Pepper’s creaky simmer, Jon Berthal’s bodily seething, and Michael K. Williams’ preening languor, Johnson more than holds his own, and he hits the right blend of frustrated confusion when asked to emote. When momentum finally takes the wheel in the final 20 minutes, the abandonment of all pretense of coherency arrives as odd comfort. If the disjointed events aren’t quite inspired by truth, at least they feel honest.