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Action & Adventure and Drama movie directed by Steven Soderbergh

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The drug traffic as it really is and from all three perspectives

  • Aug 31, 2008
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 her mother knows that she is a user, she does not tell her husband, rationalizing it based on the fact that she also used drugs when she was young. As the Douglas character goes to Washington D. C. and walks the halls of power and then goes out into the field to learn more, the daughter's usage spirals out of control until she ends up prostituting herself.
Another plotline is set in San Diego, California, the incoming transit point for drugs from Mexico. Two local police officers intercept a major shipment and capture the local boss. They manage to turn him and he identifies the local kingpin, a married man who is a pillar in the community.
The third plotline involves two local police officers in Tijuana, Mexico and the drug cartel operating out of that city. The police officers are essentially honest, but begin working with a general of the Mexican army and are sucked into the violent morass that is the drug war between law enforcement and the cartels and also between the cartels themselves.
The brutal honesty of this movie in presenting the drug trade as it is makes it almost at the level of a documentary. Some of the best brutally honest lines are uttered by a DEA agent, a drug trafficker and a young man who is a user. The DEA agent responds to a question about their budget by pointing out that the profits in the drug trade or so high that the DEA budget simply cannot compete on the monetary level. The drug trafficker talks about how they did a statistical regression analysis on the movement of vehicles through the border check and concluded that it was cost effective to simply send the vehicles through the border check. They could accept the occasional loss as a normal cost of doing business. When Michael Douglas is searching the black ghetto for his daughter, the drug-using friend of his daughter forcefully points out how the profits of the trade will always lead to greed winning out over the common good.
Presenting the drug trade from the three sides of supplier, consumer and law enforcement, this movie deserves all the awards it received. It is dynamite on a disk.

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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 . March 19, 2001
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 …
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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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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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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