7.6/10
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874 user 224 critic

Traffic (2000)

A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.

Director:

Writers:

(miniseries Traffik), (screenplay)
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Won 4 Oscars. Another 69 wins & 83 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Andrew Chavez ...
Desert Truck Driver
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Desert Truck Driver
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General Arturo Salazar
...
Salazar Soldier / The Torturer
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Salazar Soldier #2
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Lawyer Rodman
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...
Clerk
Lorene Hetherington ...
State Capitol Reporter #1
Eric Collins ...
State Capitol Reporter #2
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DEA Agent - CalTrans
Peter Stader ...
DEA Agent - CalTrans
...
DEA Agent - CalTrans
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Storyline

An intertwined drama about the United States' war on drugs, seen through the eyes of a once conservative judge, now newly-appointed drug czar, his crack-addicted daughter, two DEA agents, a jailed drug kingpin's wife, and a Mexican cop who begins to question his boss's motives.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's a dirty, dirty war! And no one comes away clean See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive drug content, strong language, violence and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

5 January 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Traffik  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$48,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$15,517,549 (USA) (5 January 2001)

Gross:

$124,107,476 (USA) (6 July 2001)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (rough cut)

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For realism purposes, Steven Soderbergh insisted that all the Mexican sequences be in Spanish. This caused a slight problem for Benicio Del Toro, who didn't actually speak the language. While born in Puerto Rico, the actor was actually raised in the USA and had to learn Spanish specially for his role. See more »

Goofs

When Eduardo is eating the poisoned food he complains about it and then beings to take a sip of water, the camera cuts to a shot from behind his head and back but he is not holding the water glass anymore. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Javier Rodriguez: [in Spanish] Last night I had an ugly nightmare.
Manolo Sanchez: [in Spanish] Oh yeah? What happened, man?
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits except for the film's title in the lower left corner. See more »

Connections

Referenced in La très très grande entreprise (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Give The Po' Man A Break
Written by Fatboy Slim (as Norman Cook)
Performed by Fatboy Slim
Courtesy of Astralwerks Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Soderbergh splashes colors with the dash and power of a Jackson Pollock
19 January 2001 | by (Lakewood, Ohio) – See all my reviews

Traffic (2000)

Like an abstract expressionist master, Steven Soderbergh stands in the center of a canvas that stretches from Cincinnati to Tijuana. He mixes materials and splashes colors with the dash and power of a Jackson Pollock. His materials are skillful acting, lively editing, a dynamic music score, and an unflinching camera. (He did his own lensing, under a pseudonym). The artist's aim? To paint a picture of our country's drug problem.

Scripted by Stephen Gaghan, "Traffic" has its roots in a 1989 British television mini-series, "Traffik," which followed the drug trade from Pakistan to Britain. There are three loosely related stories, each with its own color coding--and as with Pollock, there is nothing random about where the paint splashes upon the canvas.

Blue hues bathe blue bloods in Cincinnati where an Ohio Supreme Court Justice (Michael Douglas) is flattered into taking a job as national drug czar, just as his bright young daughter (Erika Christensen) is seduced into addiction by her prep-school friends.

A rich golden-yellow surrounds San Diego where a comely couple (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Steven Bauer) occupy the upper links of the drug chain and spend ill-gotten cash on clothes, cars and country clubs. They are pursued by two undercover cops (Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman) who spend most of their screen time cooped up in a surveillance van.

In Mexico, a washed-out, burnished brown bespatters a desert of desperation as two Baja policemen (Benicio Del Toro and Jacob Vargas) pull off a major drug bust only to be themselves busted, by a sinister general (Tomas Milian) who notifies them that 'I will take over from here.' Each color signifies its own impenetrable culture, and when Douglas crosses into Mexico to meet his counterpart, we know (but he doesn't) that his fellow drug czar is really a drug lord.

The performances were exceptional, especially considering that no one was given star treatment. Much of the film was shot with existing light and Soderbergh kept the composition wide, letting the actors create their own space. Douglas was surprisingly believable as the would-be czar and bookends an Oscar-worthy year with his scruffy professor in the earlier "Wonder Boys." His real-life wife, Zeta-Jones (carrying their child), gave a quite credible performance as a society snob who turns ruthless when her status is threatened.

Other stand-outs include Christensen's drugged-out daughter, Del Toro's street smart Mexican cop and Cheadle's dedicated drug buster. In fact, there was not a weak performance in the bunch, including crucial cameos by veterans Peter Riegert and Albert Finney. Real people even play roles: Douglas's fictional drug czar confers with real-life senator Orrin Hatch, while actual customs officials relate their day-to-day drug enforcement dilemmas.

Each of the three stories ends with a glimmer of hope. But despite small battles being won, the film's verdict is that the larger war is plainly being lost. As if on cue, White House Director of Drug Policy, Barry McCaffrey, has resigned effective January 6, 2001. The real-life outgoing czar, a former general, has become a vocal supporter of increased funding for treatment programs.

Like Pollock, Soderbergh continues to stretch the boundaries of his art, as he did a dozen years ago with "sex, lies, and videotape," and more recently with the undervalued "The Limey." "Erin Brockovich" though fairly conventional by his standards, nevertheless completes a year any director would envy.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 4


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