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Action & Adventure and Drama movie directed by Steven Soderbergh

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Traffic; America wake up!!!!!

  • Mar 19, 2001
  • by
Pros: Superb acting. Great script, and filming.

Cons: Some Characters (Amy Irving) needed more depth.

The Bottom Line: A daring film that is is well worth the effort. Makes you think and reflect...

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Although there are about 150 reviews of this movie at last count, allow me to add mine as to the growing number

There is a lot that can be said about the U.S. government’ War on Drugs; its wasteful to the tune of billions of dollars a year; it is a misguided attempt to stem the tide of a business that lines the coffers of many to the tune of many more billions a year, from high priced lawyers and bankers to 11 year old children in our cities inner city and rural streets; it is a cancer eating away at the very parchment of our Constitution, and thus our fundamental rights; the money spent on it could be better spent on treatment and at getting at the root cause of why so people feel compelled to take drugs despite the obvious negative effects it has on our society; politicians could give a rats behind about really eradicating the festering boil that is drug abuse as long as they can give sound bites and write endless platitudes about how they are doing their part to fight the War on Drugs. But what can’t be said it that the War of Drugs is a success by any stretch of the imagination. Despite the “War” and the billions spent on it, we as a nation are losing and in a big way. New and more powerful drugs, many home grown are cropping up on our streets and in our schools, draining the future of our nation just a surly as the life drains from a addict over dosing on a bad hit, or a hit that is too pure for his system to take. The drug culture we have spawned affects us all, and none of us are immune to its effects; not even a high powered judge who makes his living making an example of those who dare traffic in the deadly white stuff from the south.

Which brings me to my review of Traffic, a film that dares to tells us that drugs doesn’t just affect minorities, and inner city citizens—something I think we all knew but didn’t dare say aloud for fear that the world as we know it might end—it affects every class and every color.

Three Movies in One…

Brought to us in brilliant fashion by Steven Soderbergh, Traffic is a fascinating, often uncomfortable look into the human story of the drug culture through the eyes if three very different and distinct sets of families and two totally different cultures; 1. a Mexican police officer (Benecio Del Toro) struggling to maintain his integrity, honor, and sense of duty to is profession despite the corruption that stabs at his from every dark corner; 2. the wife (Catherine Zeta Jones)of a wealthy businessman who tries to cope with disruption of her life after the husband (Steven Bauer) is arrested by the DEA for being a drug kingpin; and 3. a well known and respected State Supreme Court Justice (Michael Douglas) who is just picked to be the President’s new head of the Office of Drug Enforcement Policy must save his own drug addicted daughter (Erika Christensen), from the very drug culture he seeks to combat.

Each mini move is shot using different film textures and lighting, and the effect is mesmerizing. Soderbergh gives a rare and frightening glance into the vast interconnect and often-unseen world of drugs and the lives it touches and in most cases ruins by its very presence. The movie is also a social commentary on drug use by well to do White kids who bemoan their station in life because they have nothing better to do with their time. They sit around in opulent multi-million dollar mansions reflect on the utter futility of their lives and cope with it by ingesting an interesting and ever increasing array of drugs.

The acting in Traffic was surprisingly stellar. Each of the actors in this movie turned in Oscar caliber performances, but Beneico Del Toro’s stands out because of the depth and complexity of the persona he portrayed. Catherine Zeta-Jones surprised me with the strength of her performance and I applaud her courage in doing a film in which her normally slender body had been transformed by the weightiness of pregnancy.

Wake Up Call…

This movie should serve as a wake up call to America that what we are doing to our country and ourselves is slowly killing our humanity. None of us have to luxury of living in a bubble, none of us is so isolate that what we do cannot affect another human being and ultimately society as a whole. In our rush to obtain the American Dream we as a society have somewhere along the way have lost our moral and spiritual compass, our respect, and our pride. The well-polished American veneer hide a far more scratched and marred piece we would just assume never looked at and never ever acknowledge. Traffic reminds us that at some point we are all touched by the drug cultures’ grimy hand, and that in the end the War on Drugs should not fought from without, it must be fought from within if we are ever going to win it.

Rating: (R)

Cast of Characters:

Benecio Del Toro
Michael Douglas
Dennis Quaid
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Amy Irving
Don Cheadle
Erika Christensen
Miguel Ferrer
Benjamin Bratt
Luis Guzman


Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More Traffic reviews
review by . August 31, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is intense, complex and firmly grounded in reality. The topic is the drug traffic between the United States and Mexico and it follows three interconnected yet somewhat distinct plotlines.    One is set in suburban, affluent Ohio. Michael Douglas plays a judge who has just been nominated by the President of the United States to be the drug czar. Unknown to him, his sixteen-year-old daughter is a heavy user, regularly attending drug parties with her equally affluent friends. Although …
review by . September 29, 2007
While people are currently complaining that we are fighting a foreign war that we have no way of winning, there is in fact a homeland war that is looking just as grim that gets far less media attention. That war is the war on drugs, a war that is examined in all different angles in Steven Soderbergh's exceptionally brilliant "Traffic." "Traffic" covers drugs from beginning to end. While "Crash" and "Babel" may have ultimately brought the craft of hyperlink storytelling to popularity, it was "Traffic" …
review by . July 25, 2006
I have finally seen this film in it's entirety and I like to say that `Traffic' is a richly entertaining epic that recalls the great works of the 1970s, when directors like Robert Altman and Francis Ford Coppola engaged mass audiences with works of genuine substance. Soderbergh works on a larger canvass than he's ever done before, bouncing several characters and plot-lines against and off each other, so that images and themes rhyme and echo. Although the subject matter is drug trafficking, this …
review by . January 21, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Great cast, script, doesn't hold back     Cons: Very disturbing, can be confusing     The Bottom Line: An excellent film, but don't see it unless you're truly prepared for the subject matter.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. The best thing I can say about "Traffic" is that it was unique. It takes a very documentary-like approach to a fictional story about the drug war. Or, more specifically, …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #78
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


Featuring a huge cast of characters, the ambitious and breathtakingTrafficis a tapestry of three separate stories woven together by a common theme: the war on drugs. In Ohio, there's the newly appointed government drug czar (Michael Douglas) who realizes after he's accepted the job that he may have gotten into a no-win situation. Not only that, his teenage daughter (Erika Christensen) is herself quietly developing a nasty addiction problem. In San Diego, a drug kingpin (Steven Bauer) is arrested on information provided by an informant (Miguel Ferrer) who was nabbed by two undercover detectives (Don Cheadle and Luis Guzmán). The kingpin's wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), heretofore ignorant of where her husband's wealth comes from, gets a crash course in the drug business and its nasty side effects. And south of the border, a Mexican cop (Benicio Del Toro) finds himself caught between both his home country and the U.S., as corrupt government officials duke it out with the drug cartel for control of trafficking various drugs back and forth across the border.

Bold in scope, Traffic showcases Steven Soderbergh at the top of his game, directing a peerless ensemble cast in a gritty, multifaceted tale that will captivate you from beginning to end. Utilizing the no-frills techniques of the Dogme 95 school, Soderbergh enhances his hand-held filming with imaginative editing and film-stock manipulation that eerily captures the atmosphere of each location: a washed-out, grainy Mexico;...

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Director: Steven Soderbergh
Genre: Action, Drama, Adventure
Screen Writer: Simon Moore, Stephen Gaghan
DVD Release Date: June 25, 2002
Runtime: 147 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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