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Traffic (2000)

Exposing the high stakes and high risks of the drug trade

Directed by:

Steven Soderbergh

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 140 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United States

'Traffic' is not one story but four, interwoven through each other to show the drug trafficking world from all sides. In one story, as part of the US war on drugs, Ohio Supreme Court judge Robert Wakefield (Michael Douglas) is appointed the nation's drugs tsar. However, his new position is complicated when he discovers that his teenaged daughter Caroline (Erika Christensen) is a heroin addict. Finally, his life is turned upside down when Caroline escapes from a treatment centre and disappears into the city's drug underworld.

In the second thread of the film, agents Montel Gordon (Don Cheadle) and Ray Castro (Luis Guzman) are following Helena Ayala (Catherine Zeta-Jones), wife of jailed drug lord Carlos Ayala (Steven Bauer), as she tries to raise money to pay off her husband's debts after threats to her son. Her husband's business was a mystery to her, but now she has to take control. The third story ties in with this one – it follows the two agents who have been assigned to protect the main witness in Carlos Ayala's trial. And the final part of the quartet follows Javier Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro), a local constable in Tijuana. Corrupt and struggling with his conscience, he has to decide what to do when his new superior officer starts to look less than clean.

This film certainly looks great. Each of the four threads has its own quite distinct style, which makes it much easier to avoid confusing the stories. The ensemble cast do work well together and are generally convincing. The tales develop into human-interest tales and do succeed on that level. The problem with the film is that they're really telling four thirty-five minute stories, which isn't time enough to introduce much in the way of plot twists or character development. Looked at individually, none of the plots are really anything new, although the cleverness with which they are intertwined does add some depth to the whole.

Also features Albert Finney and James Brolin.

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It's Got: Human interest stories that gradually become more gripping. Four Academy Awards including Best Director.

It Needs: More complexity and originality to each of the story threads.

DVD Extras It would have been nice if they’d included a Soderbergh commentary on this disc. Extras: Interviews, B-roll, Deleted scenes, Production notes, Trailer, Easter egg. DVD Extras Rating: 5/10

Alternatives:

Bound by Honour, Brokedown Palace., Rapid Fire

Summary

An interesting film that slowly draws you into the story until you are committed to the characters. Well worth a look.

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