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Traffic
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Product Description

A twisting tale that attempts to chronicle the complex and diverse war on drugs. An ohio supreme court judge is appointed drug czar but his loyalties are divided as he finds out his daughter is addicted to heroin. A jailed kingpins wife attempts to take over his successful drug business. Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 05/22/2007 Starring: Michael Douglas Salma Hayek Run time: 147 minutes Rating: R Director: Steven Soderbergh

Featuring a huge cast of characters, the ambitious and breathtaking Traffic is 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 Guzm¨˘n). 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; a blue and chilly Ohio; and a sleek, sun-dappled San Diego. But Traffic is more than a film-school exercise. Soderbergh and screenwriter Stephen Gaghan (adapting the British TV miniseries Traffik to the U.S.) seamlessly weave the threads of each separate plotline into one solid tale, with the actions of one plot having quiet repercussions on the other two. And if you needed more proof that Soderbergh takes unparalleled care with his actors, practically all the members of this cast turn in their best work ever, the standout being an Oscar-worthy Del Toro as the conflicted moral conscience of the film. While no story is fully resolved in the film, you'll be haunted by these characters days after you've seen the film. By far one of the best movies of 2000. --Mark Englehart

Customer Reviews:

  • Very real drug life
    I just watched this movie and was very moved by the story. The story is very close to real life of the "drug cartel" as well as the user and drug enforcerment. What I really liked about this movie is the honesty that is protrayed in all aspects of drugs itself. What the drug does for a person, how it comes in to this country and other countries, also how it is acquired by the user. The honesty includes those that are from the underprivilaged comunities to the "silver spoon" communities as well. Bravo to the writer and the director of this movie!!! I recommend this movie HIGHLY!!!...more info
  • Not Much Movement
    Traffic is an average movie which does not inspire enough interest to get out of that pigeon hole. It deals with many stories and they are all related on some way, obviously the director was watching some foreign films, for this is nothing new. Most of the stories are preposterous, take for example the wife of a drug dealer, in a few weeks she is talking to dangerous drug leaders in Mexico as if she knew what she was doing. Also, the drug czar wandering around in the ghettos of Baltimore, these scenes do not add up and as a result the film is mostly a compendium of utter boredom that drags on.

    ...more info
  • Drugs, Cincinnati- Who Can Ask for More?
    *Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 starts playing in the background.*

    Ah yes. Today's journey takes us to the heart of America's Midwest to the manicured suburbs of Cincinnati. Urban sprawl. Rolling Hills. White, private school kids free basing in daddy's living room. This is the American Dream.

    Traffic confronts dealing, selling, using and the "war on drugs" through three intermingled plot lines in this documentary-style film that take viewers from D.C. to Cincinnati to California to Mexico.

    More well known actors grade the screen during this movie than is reallynecessary, but somehow director Steven Soderbergh manages to pull it off.People like Salma Hayek have bit roles and few lines. Other big names, likeBenjamin Bratt, don't make into the story line until the last fourthof the movie. But the main stars of the movie are Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones (looking *gasp* very pregnant for her role as a pregnant wife of a drug trafficker), TopherGrace (Eric Forman from That 70s Show with a good haircut finally) and ErikaChristensen (Leave it Beaver, the movie?).

    The greatest part of this movie is its focus on Cincinnati Country Day high school in Cincinnati. For those of you have seen the move, you might be thinking, "What focus? They only mentioned the name of the school once." Well, let me fill you in.

    Douglas' character and his family live in Indian Hills in Cincinnati (although the house they use is actually from Hyde Park). Indian Hills is where some schmo who raised like a bajillion dollars for President Double-yuh lives, as well as Marge Schott. Anyway, Douglas' daughter goes to Cincinnati Country Day, which is a REAL school. SO, when little, rich, white kids are doing drugs in the film, it's not reflecting well on Cincinnati Country Day with its $14,000 a year tuition.

    This appeals greatly to my still-experiencing-horrors-as-a-result-of-all-girls-catholic-high-school-hell self.

    So this movie is great. It really is and everyone should see it. And after you do, e-mail me. I have a question I want to ask you what you thought of this one scene I found very troublesome. (A little commentary just thrown in while Douglas and Grace go driving through Over the Rhine. ...more info
  • Remarkable
    Thought provoking, suspenseful, illuminating and candid. Actors love working for Steven Soderbergh and it shows. Each role was well developed and fully realized on screen. This movie is powerful!...more info
  • A Poor Example Of High Definition....
    Disc Picture:
    As intended by the filmmakers, the stylized VC-1-encoded 1.85:1 HD DVD picture features differing color schemes depending on the location. The entire presentation is void of highly resolved fine details.
    Soundtrack:
    The Dolby? Digital Plus 5.1-channel soundtrack is not overly exciting, although bass is delivered well through each of the channels, although the noise floor is low, dialogue and effects are generally well recorded, and the sound matches the storytelling nicely. ...more info
  • SNOREFEST 2001 ZZZZZzzzzzzzz..........
    If this bomb doesn't put you
    to sleep, you're already dead!
    With out a doubt, one of the
    most boring movies ever made!...more info
  • Not Much Movement
    Traffic is an average movie which does not inspire enough interest to get out of that pigeon hole. It deals with many stories and they are all related on some way, obviously the director was watching some foreign films, for this is nothing new. Most of the stories are preposterous, take for example the wife of a drug dealer, in a few weeks she is talking to dangerous drug leaders in Mexico as if she knew what she was doing. Also, the drug czar wandering around in the ghettos of Baltimore, these scenes do not add up and as a result the film is mostly a compendium of utter boredom that drags on.

    ...more info
  • 'The drug is not in the doll, the drug is the doll'
    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 is not an "issues" movie per se. Instead, it's a profoundly affecting dramatic thriller where the destructive forces of drugs cut across different sections of society.

    Some will say that it takes too long, or that some of the scenes are a bit slow. But does everything go fast paced in real life? It just tries to sketch a realistic view of handling with drugs. And maybe there isn't a lot of action going on, but that's not the goal of the movie.

    This film has an amazing ensemble cast where everybody is working at the top of their game. However, Benicio Del Toro definitely stands out with the breakthrough performance. I don't think it's accidental that the movie begins and ends with shots of him. He plays Javier Rodriguez, a Mexican police officer caught in a futile and corrupt system, and it's as compelling of a character as Michael Corleone. Del Toro is exceptionally relaxed and subtle, keeping his thoughts and feelings private from the other characters in the films, but sharing it with the camera. Del Toro navigates the audience through a world of impossible choices and moral corruption, quietly simmering with intense conflict just beneath the surface. Benicio's been an indie stalwart for years and this film shot his stock through the roof.

    Michael Douglas is also terrific, adding another strong performance to his gallery of flawed men in power. He shows genuine fear and vulnerability in a harrowing scene in which he searches for his daughter in a drug dealer's den. I've never seen Erika Christensen before, but she makes an impressive debut. Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman are as loose, limber and spontaneous as ever, providing plenty of comic relief as well as keeping it real. Catherine Zeta-Jones takes a complete 180 from her past roles and admirably plays against her looks, appearing very pregnant while thrown into gritty surroundings. Dennis Quaid is appropriately slimy as a corrupt lawyer.

    Anybody who is starved for a genuine piece of film making should breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy Soderbergh's engaging film.
    ...more info
  • Traffic
    Enjoyed this movie , but not a movie I would recommened as a must own
    on HD dvd. Looked just as good on dvd. ...more info
  • Traffic
    This story is very interesting and takes a look at the drug trade, and the drugs effect on people in all walks of life. It starts out with grainy, yellowish haze to help enhance a scene in the Mexico desert. Michael Douglas plays Bob Wakefield, a political figure whose position is led to stressful circumstances when his own daughter falls to deep in the very substances he is supposed to be fighting on a National level. Outstanding cast also includes Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta Jones and Don Cheadle. This is one of those stories that could be considered art on the big screen when it comes to telling an interesting drama that touches on a major issue within our world....more info
  • hard to follow.
    I am not going to take the time to tell you what this was about. Basically because I have no clue myself. This movie was so freaking hard to follow. It was SO long. I guess I understand. The guy finally realized his family was more important than his job and drugs can have an effect on even the most unsuspecting families and pepole. But holy man make it like and hour and a half amd save me the time. Perhaps if I watch this again it will make more sense to me. This was a good movie I think. They just made it hard to follow. Going from one story to another. Over and over. Give it a try I guess....more info
  • Great film - wrong HD image to show-off
    Traffic is difficult for me to review since I really enjoyed the film but before you purchase be aware that the intent of the Director is to deliver a grainy, washed-out picture throughout the film. In the places where Traffic is intended to deliver an oustanding picture without washed-out images it certainly does.

    Images of the early bust, courtroom and 'life at home' are rich and detailed - via projector in 1080i.

    If you appreciate the story and have a nice system, Traffic in HD is a good investment; it is NOT the movie to show-off your new High Definition home Theater system; for that I would recommend The Searchers, Seabiscuit, King Kong or Casino in HD-DVD....more info
  • Valuable Film
    Character, decision-making, love, honor, deceit, trust....all are put into question in Traffic, a powerful and moving film.....to go along with the many beautiful and honest teachings of this movie, the structure of the film is captivating as well, with inter-related stories being told simultaneously....the performances are strong, the directing and storyline even stronger...traffic is an honorable mention in my book...it is worth seeing...more info
  • Traffic
    Scripted by Stephen Gaghan from an acclaimed BBC miniseries, Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning "Traffic" is a hard-hitting, superbly stylized expos¨¦ of the war on drugs. Visually slick and masterfully directed, the film works beautifully as an ensemble drama of interconnected vignettes, and as a wake-up call to parents, educators, and clueless officials, highlighting the insidious ways illegal narcotics infiltrate the culture--and the mostly ineffective means we have of rooting them out. An exhilarating reality check that'll keep you hooked....more info
  • IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST...
    This is a raw and powerful movie on the drug trade and its corresponding law enforcement response. It is a series of riveting, interlocking vignettes that tell the story on all fronts of the war on drugs. It paints a picture that will stay with the viewer for some time, so powerful is the imagery employed and so compelling are the actors in their performances.

    Michael Douglas plays the part of Robert Wakefield, a newly appointed drug czar, who tries to mount an all points attack on the drug trade. Naive and well meaning, he is, unbeknownst to him, being manipulated by the powers that be in Mexico, who are fighting a turf war over the profitable drug trade. He is so clueless that when the drug war actually lands on his door step, as when his teenage daughter, wonderfully portrayed by Erika Christiansen, succumbs to peer pressure and becomes addicted to drugs, he is initially in heavy denial. He ignores all the standard warning signs, until it is nearly too late.

    Benicio Del Toro, in the star making role of Javier, an intelligent, decent, and honest Mexican law enforcement officer, who has his own war on drugs going on, is riveting with his quietly powerful performance. He, too, is being manipulated by the powers that be in Mexico. Nearly too late he realizes that the Mexican general, who is ostensibly battling the war on drugs and to whom Javier had given his full support and cooperation, is engaged in some drug action on the side from which he hopes to profit. The only drug war that the general is really involved in is the one that one drug cartel has with its rival.

    Meanwhile, back in the states, a wealthy and respected San Diego businessman, played by hunky Steven Bauer, is arrested, as it seems that his businesses are really just a front for the drug trade. His assets frozen, this leaves his beautiful and greedy wife, played by the lovely and talented Catherine Zeta-Jones, picking up the pieces of her husband's empire while he is in jail, awaiting trial. As regent to the kingdom, she cold bloodedly negotiates with the drug cartel to restore her and her husband financially. No shrinking violet is she!

    There are several other subplots that are also of note and move the story along. All of these vignettes interlock with one another in some fashion, serving to bring the story full circle. To find out how they do so, watch this well directed and powerful film. It is certainly well worth watching and a welcome addition to one's personal film collection. ...more info
  • A Tale of Futility.
    I must commend Steven Soderbergh for making Traffic as it depicts the drug war in all of its truly gray dimensions. No where is this more true than when drug Czar, Michael Douglas, calls for some original "out of the box" ideas on his government plane and none of his staff can offer up a thing. It really was a very ambitious project and I believe that the director pulled it off admirably. The movie is quite stylish and it was a pleasure to watch.

    Everything involving Mexico was absolutely fascinating. I thought the shots of Mexico City and Tijuana were highly authentic. Frankly, I think that Benicio Del Toro is far and away the best part of the movie. His character outshines everyone else although Don Cheadle had an inspired performance. The intrigue between the cartels was the best part.

    Sadly, there was considerable racism in the film which is to be expected from Hollywood nowadays. The Hispanic and black cops are shown saying they want to catch the big guys, "the white guys," even though both of the big shots in the movie are "Hispanic guys." No matter, they'll blame the white man. Then, through the speech of a drug addicted spoiled private school kid, we find out that whites are to blame for blacks selling drugs. One wonders who is to blame for whites selling drugs then. It is the familiar, and mindless, politically correct view that whites are the cause of all evil, whereas, non-whites are always innocent victims. By proffering this the filmmaker, just as the case is with every trendy PC acolyte, reveals his own racism, as he condescends to minorities instead of treating them as real people. The racist element lowered my overall rating but the movie was still worthwhile. ...more info
  • a fine Soderbergh masterpiece.
    This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

    Rejected by all the studios it went on to win many awards.
    The film has multiple plots, one about the hew head of the ONDCP who discovers that his daughter is using drugs. There is also a plot about drug smuggling in Mexico, and one of a man who is accused of a major smuggling ring after being fingered by a competitor.

    The film is also a critique on the US war on drugs, which is inarguably a controversal issue in politics. The film has an all-star cast with some big names. As it is a film about drugs, it depicts their use and the effects of use which many will find disturbing. The ambient music is very beautiful and the final piece, Brian Eno's "An Ending: Ascent" is one of my favorites.

    The Criterion DVD also has many special features.

    Disc one contains the film along with three audio commentaries. One with writer Stephen Gaghan and director Steven Soderbergh, another with music writer Cliff Martinez, and the final one with the producers.

    Disc two contains the mother load!
    24 deleted scenes and a gag, all with optional audio commentary by Soderbergh and Gaghan.

    There is also a demonstration of film processing and dialogue editing used to acheive the grainy look of some scenes and a few removals of background noises respectively, There is over half an hour of raw footage edited into the film incuding a cocktail party scene with interviews of actual US politicians, the filming of a warehouse where the government stores drugs being used as evidence in trials, and scenes from the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) and a slideshow drug tracker K9 dog trading cards.

    If you like the regular version of the film, you'll love this one....more info
  • Addictive traffic
    The insidious nature of drugs and the efforts -sometimes useless to stop their use- are revealingly exposed through the anxious lens of director Steven Soderbergh in his work, Traffic.

    In a mosaic of intertwined histories, Soderbergh again speaks about a controversial subject of deep common interest, one that affects all the social layers and triggers ominous conflicts and tragedies.

    Two Mexican policemen, Javier Rodriguez and Manolo Sanchez, working in the border with the United States to stop drug traffic, will be caught in a corruption network. In the United States, Judge Robert Wakefield is named the new Czar Antidrug of the country, and while he looks for allies at the Mexican government to fight the war against drugs in both countries, he and his wife sinks in a personal battle against the increasing addiction of their adolescent daughter. At the same time, in San Diego, DEA special agents Montel Gordon and Ray Castro work in a case to eliminate one of the most powerful Mexicans cartel, and when they catch Carlos Ayala, key contact, his wife Helena will be dragged to the squalid world of her husband in order to save both hers and her son's life. Histories of the innocents, the guilty, the manipulators and the victims connect all in Traffic, an excellent cinematographic piece that stands out for being a vehicle for entertainment that sends out an important message.

    An absolute triumph of direction, screenwriting and performances, Steven Soderbergh's film is a powerful "docudrama" that challenges our intelligence, impresses us and it affects us. The cast is sublime and everyone without exception offers a memorable interpretation. Each actor inhabits their space without nothing or nobody robbing their momentum.

    Stephen Gaghan's script slowly involve us in histories of common people, until we entered in the different worlds where their lives take place, from the vast and hard Mexican desert, passing by the most luxurious offices of Washington, to the suburbs where the drugs abound, waiting for their next victim.

    Soderbergh, a director capable of wonders, again improves himself giving the film a different look, using colors to represent diverse atmospheres and histories and using the camera-in-hand technique to intensify the realism of the scenes.

    Generally, the world of drugs is displayed in movies to reflect the self-destruction of the people who use them. In Traffic, is not about an affected person, the whole society is the victim, addicted in one way or other to this terrible affliction. Many people are in the incessant search of answers to end this situation. Answers that, -judging by Soderbergh and Gaghan's expositions of -, have never had effective solutions. The movie is not about criticisms, nor does try to propose ideas, is simply trying to show a reality where nobody will get away clean.
    ...more info
  • An Unpowerful Drama, Unimportant Film
    This Movie Started off Good then turned to Trash half way through. Who ever believed Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta in their roles? After Don Cheadles partner gets killed the film gets boring very fast. Another Over Hyped Movie that shouldn't of won as many awards as it did....more info
  • DYNAMITE PERFORMANCES ! ! ! ! !
    Truly one of the best films I've ever seen. Great performances and stories. Very intriging and suspenseful. Great actors such as MICHAEL DOUGLAS, CATHERINE ZETA JONES and DON CHEADLE. One of the best stories in the movie was with the teenager and his friend who later has O.D. Very intense and sad. If you like those kind of movies in which there are a lot of intense thematic problems and different stories, then this one is for you. I suggest you see this one immediatly....more info
  • Not worth the money
    This movie was shot in a way to intentionally to appear grainy in a lot of frames. Now the irony is obvious, what is the point to have a HD version of this movie? I loved the movie. Since I don't own the SD version, it's just a really pricy movie in my collection. Catherine Zeta Jones looked stunning in a few frames, but I am not sure if she would look any differene in 480p. It's a great movie, but you probably can buy it for a 1/4 of the price in regular DVD and you probably won't be able to tell the difference....more info
  • Should be re-released with cut scenes re-inserted.
    The bloody war on drugs counted over five-thousand dead in Mexico this year. Do Americans think about that when they "need" their weed, heroin, coke or meth? As someone raised in a border city trying to get by on very little money I'm constantly on alert for who I need to avoid. And disgusted by Americans cavalier attitude towards their nasty habits and the fact that it's getting people killed.

    That said, I'd like to recommend a book by a long time law enforcement officer that actually makes sense:

    Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing (Hardcover)
    by Norm Stamper Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing
    (38 customer reviews)
    ...more info
  • Couldn't get any better
    Traffic definitely showed the world what goes on behind the closed doors in drug traffiking and how people handle it on both sides of the borders. From one side, It's hard to win the war on drugs when you're the drug czar (Michael Douglas) and your loved ones (Erika Christensen) are doing what you're strongly against. From another side, you want to protect your family (Catherine Zeta-Jones) but you can't help but know that all your wealth and lifestyles for you and your family are coming from something illegal; something that you know your husband (Steven Bauer) is doing but you refuse to believe it. As for the other side of the border, what can you do when you're an honest mexican cop (Benicio Del Toro who was just amazing) who's caught between doing the right thing and doing the right thing for the wrong people.

    Traffic really opened my eyes from how people operate when it comes to drugs. It shows how we deal with stopping it, abusing it, selling it, and eventually how it comes to our countries. All 3 stories don't make sense with each other but seem to come together in the middle while drifting apart towards the end of the film. Sure it's long (146 minutes) but how are you gonna fit all the details in the movie in just under 100 minutes? Great film and the best job Steven Soderbergh has ever done in his career....more info
  • Fantastic ensemble acting
    Loved the camera techniques - from hand-held to longshots, the audience becomes completely involved in the characters' situations. This movie is one to focus on while watching - the dialogue is swift, and the spanish government/drug lords can get confusing. (Maybe I was just slow..) Benicio Del Toro, Don Cheadle, Topher Grace, Erika Christensen, and Michael Douglas were excellent. ...more info
  • Unrealistic, Mediocre, and Boring
    A tediously long film that is nothing more than an overhyped docu-drama. There's nothing new in this movie that any moderately educated person wouldn't already know about the illegal drug market just by reading the paper or watching the news. Furthermore, after reading such articles or watching such documentaries, one will find this film to portray caricatures more than real characters in a stereotypical Hollywood fashion. The characters are as dull as their unimaginative script.

    So, in the end one must ask: what's the point of this movie? It neither educates or entertains. Those two elements usually result in one conclusion: boredom. Over 2 hours of predictable snail-paced plots about things people have already seen on countless episodes of Miami Vice, Cops, and Law and Order, to name a few. This movie was made twenty years too late! As a matter of fact; since these problems were already manifest in the 60s, maybe it was made 40 years too late.

    Save your money and time: rent it if you must. It may interest you if you have absolutely no understanding of drug related crimes or drug culture. As I've said though, any person with with a minimal education will find this movie to be a dull rehash of an old story.
    ...more info
  • At times gripping, at times kind of slow
    I still don't understand the love for Crash, the recent film centering on the racism issue. It seemed like a film that had a couple good ideas but they were featured in a bad movie which makes its win for Best Picture all the more confusing. That film for some reason reminded me of Traffic which centers on another important issue; this one being about the drug war and its effects on addicts and non-addicts. While you can obviously tell Traffic is an important film and it is indeed a good one, it's also slightly marred by erratic pacing and a bit of uninteresting characters.

    The film, unlike let's say, Magnolia or Short Cuts, is 3 separate storylines with one thing in common: the drug trade. In one story set in Ohio, Robert Wakefield is the newly-appointed "drug czar" crusading against decreasing the amount of drugs in the country. However, he has a daughter that's quickly starting to get addicted. In San Diego, Helena sees her husband arrested while she's unaware he's a key player in the drug trade with another captured by DEA agents who is going to testify. And finally in Mexico, a highway patrol cop gets involved in the corruption between drug cartels and the want for control of the drugs going in and out of Mexico and the US.

    To help the audience differentiate the different places, a color code has been given to each segment. The Wakefield story looks so unbelievably blue that you wouldn't be surprised if character blood looked blue too. San Diego looks more traditional but a bit overexposed making it more brighter while Mexico looks like an indie movie with a very gritty and raw feel and a jittery looking camera. It helps keep track of where you are but like I said, you've never seen skin tones look so blue before; they really overdid it in some cases.

    The best storyline is most likely Mexico since it's anchored by Benicio Del Toro who certainly deserved his Oscar. It's also got a more interesting story and a better look to it despite its intentional amateurishness. The one that isn't that great is probably the Wakefield story since it never gripped me all that much. San Diego was alright but nothing to special. Ultimately the problem with the film was that the film just felt slow. Ever watch one of those movies where it feels like you've been watching for longer than the movie is? Not to mention that sometimes one storyline is starting to get interesting then whoosh! off to somewhere else. A similar problem plagued Babel since the Chieko story was ultimately more emotional and gripping than the others. Some will probably disagree and say all stories in Traffic were good but I always groaned slightly when we moved away from Mexico.

    It's certainly an ambitious film so not going to argue there and it's a great film at times but I wouldn't say it was my favorite film of 2000....more info
  • Well Written, Well Argued...
    Well written, directed, and acted, Traffic makes the Case that we need to attack the demand side of the drug trade if we are going to win the war on drugs, b/c our current supply-side approach is futile....more info
  • IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST...
    This is a raw and powerful movie on the drug trade and its corresponding law enforcement response. It is a series of riveting, interlocking vignettes that tell the story on all fronts of the war on drugs. It paints a picture that will stay with the viewer for some time, so powerful is the imagery employed and so compelling are the actors in their performances.

    Michael Douglas plays the part of Robert Wakefield, a newly appointed drug czar, who tries to mount an all points attack on the drug trade. Naive and well meaning, he is, unbeknownst to him, being manipulated by the powers that be in Mexico, who are fighting a turf war over the profitable drug trade. He is so clueless that when the drug war actually lands on his door step, as when his teenage daughter, wonderfully portrayed by Erika Christiansen, succumbs to peer pressure and becomes addicted to drugs, he is initially in heavy denial. He ignores all the standard warning signs, until it is nearly too late.

    Benicio Del Toro, in the star making role of Javier, an intelligent, decent, and honest Mexican law enforcement officer, who has his own war on drugs going on, is riveting with his quietly powerful performance. He, too, is being manipulated by the powers that be in Mexico. Nearly too late he realizes that the Mexican general, who is ostensibly battling the war on drugs and to whom Javier had given his full support and cooperation, is engaged in some drug action on the side from which he hopes to profit. The only drug war that the general is really involved in is the one that one drug cartel has with its rival.

    Meanwhile, back in the states, a wealthy and respected San Diego businessman, played by hunky Steven Bauer, is arrested, as it seems that his businesses are really just a front for the drug trade. His assets frozen, this leaves his beautiful and greedy wife, played by the lovely and talented Catherine Zeta-Jones, picking up the pieces of her husband's empire while he is in jail, awaiting trial. As regent to the kingdom, she cold bloodedly negotiates with the drug cartel to restore her and her husband financially. No shrinking violet is she!

    There are several other subplots that are also of note and move the story along. All of these vignettes interlock with one another in some fashion, serving to bring the story full circle. To find out how they do so, watch this well directed and powerful film. It is certainly well worth watching and a welcome addition to one's personal film collection. ...more info
  • Powerful film
    This is an intense and gritty though brief cross-section of the "war on drugs". (Although after watching, you may be tempted to call it the so-called "war on drugs".) Michael Douglas is Wakefield, a judge who thinks that pushing treatment options balances out his heavily pro-prosecution leanings in narcotics cases. Wakefield's beautiful and intelligent daughter (Erika Christensen) herself is slowly falling under the spell of drugs and, by the film's end, proves capable of doing anything for a hit. Pegged to become the next Federal Drug Czar, Wakefield's strategy depends on bringing his brand of justice to Mexico where the lines between the law and the criminals frequently blurs if not disappears altogether. (If you're car is stolen, Mexican police will tell you who has to be paid before they can "find" your car.) The plan's master flaw in law enforcement strategies is that the drug war in Mexico is more complicated than simply cops v. dealers. On the illicit side of the war, the conflict is not seen as one between the law and law breakers, but between different cartels - each jockeying to enlist corrupt police and military leaders in their favor. (Mexican law enforcement, a character observes, is an entrepreneurial pursuit.) A seemingly fearless and moral Tijuana cop, Javier Rodriguez (Del Toro), discovers this when reluctantly co-opted into the larger drug war by the mythic General Salazar. Salazar's methods require a fair amount of psyche-warfare against friend and foe alike (suspected traitors dig their own graves while prisoners with information are swamped with kindness so they'll turn). When Rodriguez suspects Salazar's crackdown to be cover for one supposedly crushed cartel to regroup, he breaches security and runs for the Americans. Linking American narcotics officers and the Mexicans is a south-California businessman Carlos Ayala, (Steve Bauer) whose various corporations amount to a shell game used to conceal a vast drug empire. When one of Ayala's underlings Ruiz, (Miguel Ferrer - the one whose script lines are meant to convey the futility of the drug war) is arrested on the eve of a massive coke bust, Ayala gets arrested as well, and it falls onto his now besieged wife (a very pregnant Catherine Zeta Jones) to save the family. Soon, she learns that this will require her to restore its links to the drug trade, by all means necessary.

    Though freely taking shots at the drug-war, "Traffic" doesn't so much push a point as tell a story, leaving us to base our own conclusions (the only difference is that we'll now have to think twice about them). Soderbergh directs his characters well - the performances are actually understated for a film this topical. Each of the story arcs has its own special cinematography highlighting the seeming distance from the drug war's front lines and the after-effects of a hit: the Wakefield story is generally shot in cool blue colors with static shots and high-grain film, implying a clear frame of mind. Zeta-Jone's scenes are filmed in a sunny yellow, using smooth shots but quick cuts - hinting at how the orderliness of her life is on the verge of collapse. Best of all are Mexican scenes, shot in very grainy film using harsh yellow filters - never letting us forget the harsh pressures and ceaseless anxiety that hounds those at the source of the drug economy. Soderbergh further flavors the mix with a low-grade electronic score which seems both from an episode of "In Search Of..." yet perfectly balanced for this film. Even the captions seem to date the film to the 1970s (using typed captions instead of computer characters, as if the film were completed a week after "The Andromed Strain"). This was a powerful film for so many reasons, not the least of which is the way it mirrors its subject - it draws you in and blows your mind....more info
  • Three separate stories...one seamless screenplay: TRAFFIC
    TRAFFIC is the film for lovers of the seamless screenplay brought to the screen with thought, care and professionalism of direction and acting.Three stories all separate and disconnected, but all beautifully bound together in the drug trafficking war.You will not know from one minute to the next where
    this is going to wind up.Highly recommended.

    CRASH is an excellent companion film as well as THE FRENCH CONNECTION....more info
  • A Movie As Important As It Is Excellent
    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" that originally perfected the art of telling a single narrative through different perspectives. We get to see the drugs shipped from Mexico to America, we get to see the drug dealers explain their side of the story, we get to see the congressmen who are attempting to fight drugs, and we finally get to see teenagers who use the drugs themselves.

    It's mind boggling to see how much of an impact drugs really have on our culture and on the lives of our fellow man. Soderbergh filmed "Traffic" on a digital camera of things, which gives the movie the look of a home video. The color tones also differ from character to character, demonstrating the mood they're currently in. For example, a cop in Mexico is surrounded in a glow of orange, giving the viewer a feeling of what viewing Mexico for the first time is like. Then we look through the eyes of a teenage girl who is taking drugs, and the world looks hazy and blue, except for light which seems to be brighter then it should be. It's a great stylistic choice, one that benefits the film and makes it look as fresh and inventive today as it did seven years ago. But my goodness, I must be out of my mind.

    I haven't even discussed the storyline with you yet, and here I am jumping into the art of the film making. I think this is the first (as my brother calls them) "talking drama" film I actually did this on. And now that I've dipped in with a small analyst of the film making, I want to point out that the acting is excellent. Michael Douglas as Congressman Robert Wakefield particularly stands out as the congressman who goes to congress meetings pitching his plans to enforce the war on drugs, only to run into a conflict when he discovers his daughter Caroline (Erika Christensen) is a drug addict herself. Benicio del Toro may have walked away with the Oscar for his portrayal of the conflicted Mexican cop Javier Rodriguez, but in my eyes Michael Douglas steals this movie right out from all the other actors.

    Though I must admit, Don Cheadle comes dangerously close as Montel Gordon, a man who has captured a key witness who's testimony could send a major drug lord to jail for life. His witness singles out the husband of Helena Ayala (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is shocked to discover this secret life her husband has been living (which has supplied the income she never really questioned before), but feels compelled to get involved in the business after her son is threatened by another drug lord. All of these stories could be their own movie, yet "Traffic" roles them all into one very effectively. These storylines contribute to each other so beautifully, that it's like watching a well-made documentary (which, ironically, is also what the film looks like thanks to Soderbergh's digital camera technique).

    "Traffic" caused considerable amount of controversy when it was nominated for five Academy Awards. Of the five "Traffic" took home four, including Oscars for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (I guess I should also mention it won for Best Editing, seeing as how sub-par editing could have easily killed this film). The only Oscar it did not win was Best Picture, which went to Ridley Scott's "Gladiator." Yes, I know people tend to accuse the Academy Awards for taking themselves too seriously, but at least this year the Academy members shut their brains off and gave the Best Picture award to one of those brainless action movies average movie goers constantly (and ignorantly) claim are better then Oscar winning films like "Casablanca" and "Titanic."

    Even if you LIKED "Gladiator" there's no denying that "Gladiators" film quality is certainly not on the same level as "Traffics" is, and it's certainly not as memorable. Yeah, I know the two films are different, and thus should be exempt from comparison, but seeing as how both films are actually two and a half hours long, I find it interesting when people compliment "Traffic" for feeling "half as long" as it's advertised, where with "Gladiator" I've never heard people comment on the film feeling short then it really is. People who do watch "Traffic" compliment the unique style of filming in the movie, but with "Gladiator" they only seem interested that the movie looked cool. "Traffic" is a classic film that is just as relevant today as it was seven years ago. It's still daring today, it's still important today, and it's still just as fascinating today. Dare I say it, "Traffic" losing Best Picture was the biggest snub since the snubbing of "Raging Bull."

    Rating: **** and a half stars...more info
  • Buy the DVD Version Instead
    I liked this movie. The cast was pretty good and the acting and story were also strong.

    The HD DVD sucks royally. The video quality is like a regular DVD. I saw this using an HDMI connection on a 1080 HDTV on which other HD DVDs have looked much better. High definition discs are still new and I expect it will take some time to improve the technology, but this movie is an exact replica of the DVD version.

    I bought this at Best Buy, on sale for almost the same price of the regular DVD. And it is definitely worth less than the regular DVD because I could at least watch a DVD on my blu-ray player when they become somewhat affordable in the distant future. This is why I like combo formats better than regular HD DVDs....more info