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.
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 heroin-addicted daughter, two DEA agents, a jailed drug kingpin's wife, and a Mexican cop who begins to question his boss's motives.
Master of the 4-string Electric Bassius O' Phellius - Flea See more »
The European DVD features 24 deleted scenes, including:
A scene at Manolo's house. Manolo is paranoid that the Cartel is after him
An extended scene between Manolo and Javier in the car, where Javier asks Manolo to keep his mouth shut about the Cartel
The assassin buying some hi-tech gadgets, including a cell-phone that can not be tapped (probably the one he later uses to communicate with Helena during his assassination attempt)
A scene where Judge Wakefield and Carlos Ayala's defence attorney meet at the congress party, showing that the two are old friends
A sequence of Helena going to a fancy party
An extended scene between Helena and Arnie Metzger
Two short scenes involving Manolo and Javier bringing Salma Hayek to the drug lord
An alternate scene of Helena visiting Carlos in prison
A scene where Helena tries to pawn her paintings
A scene where Helena discusses something over her cell-phone
An alternate sequence of Judge Wakefield looking for Caroline, involving Seth.
A scene where Helena asks Arnie to introduce her to the Obregón Cartel
A scene where Helena visits the factory where the cocaine dolls are made
A scene where Judge Wakefield searches Caroline's room for drugs, finding some in her diary
Three scenes involving Helena having to smuggle drugs into the US, as a test for the Obregón Cartel. She ends up not doing it.
Helena meeting the Obregón assassin at the playground
Judge Wakefield taking a stoned Caroline home after he found her. She tells him that she did it all because of a 'school assignment'.
Javier meeting Judge Wakefield after the drug bust
Javier meeting with Obregón, asking him for lights at baseball fields. He agrees.
Gordon sitting in the surveillance van in front of the Ayala residence with his new partner, listening to Carlos telling someone over the phone that they are 'back in business' and 'completely untouchable'
An Ending (Ascent)
Written and Performed by Brian Eno
Courtesy of Astralwerks Records See more »
I've been remiss in not discussing the acting earlier. 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, but this film should shoot his stock through the roof. If there's justice in this world, he'll be rewarded with Best Actor Awards aplenty.
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 (they should star as a team in every movie!) 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.
Anyway, film geeks and anybody else starved for a genuine piece of filmmaking should breathe a sigh of relief and give thanks that Soderbergh has come to save the day.
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