A modern day look at America's war on drugs told through four separate stories that are connected in one way or another. A conservative judge who's just been appointed as the US drug czar learns that his teenage honor student daughter is a drug addict. A beautiful trophy wife struggles to save her wealthy husband's drug business, while two DEA agents protect a witness with inside knowledge of the spouse's business. In Mexico, a slightly corrupt, yet dedicated cop struggles with his conscience when he learns that his new boss may not be the anti-drug official he made himself out to be. Written by
Writer Stephen Gaghan originally planned to set the Wakefield family storylines in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. During his research, he determined that Cincinnati's bad neighborhoods looked worse than Louisville's, and would serve the finished film better, so he moved the Wakefields' stories to Ohio. See more »
Francisco Flores has distinctive wounds on his left cheek and forehead when first shown in surveillance photos, but those wounds are only visible after he is tortured by General Salazar's men, long after the photos were taken. See more »
Traffic is an incredible movie. The director, Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies and videotape, out of sight, erin brockovich, etc...) has created a film that combines elements of Hollywood and independent filmmaking. On one hand, he has created an epic that has a very wide scope and has used some famous Hollywood actors. On the other hand, as the cameraman for the film, he has shot it with a handheld camera and and makes the film visually very different from traditional films. He presents the drug war in the United States from three perspectives. The first is of a police officer (superbly played by Benicio del Toro)in Tijuana struggling with the difficult situations that such a job creates in the center of drug trafficking from Mexico to the United States. Catherine Zeta Jones plays the wife of the leader of a drug cartel in San Diego who gets arrested. Once naive about his business, she takes charge of the operations. The third story deals with the appointment of conservative Ohio Supreme Court justice Robert Wakefield, played by Michael Douglas, to the post of drug czar. This occurs while his daughter Caroline, portrayed emotionally by Erika Christensen starts descending into a world of drugs thanks to her boyfriend Seth Abrahams. (Topher Grace from "That 70's Show" plays Seth) These three stories are distinguishable visually. The Tijuana story is shot with different tones of yellow, giving everything that goes on in the story a feel similar to that of a hot desert. The San Diego story has warm soft colors, representing Helena Ayala's (Catherine Zeta Jones' character) once peaceful social soccer mom life. Finally, Cincinatti and Washington, D.C., the cities where the story of the drug czar takes place is shot in a cold blue, giving it an emotionless feel. Despite the importance of the visuals, what makes this film that much better is the fact that Soderbergh does not moralize. There is not an anti-drug stance but there is also not a strong advocacy of legalization. Traffic shows a problem with no current solution. The viewer has to decide for himself. 10/10
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