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4.1 out of 5 stars59
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 5 July 2007
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.
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As you've probably gathered most of the reviews are for the 'DVD' version of the fantastically good “Traffic” (how drugs get to America and the cause and effect in both destinations). And the 'BLU RAY' of it has subsequently been available in the States and several other territories for some time now too. But which BLU RAY issue works if you live in Blighty?

Unfortunately the sought-after USA Criterion release is REGION-A LOCKED - although it doesn't say so on Amazon. So it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK BLU RAY players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't). Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.

Luckily the UK and European issues are REGION B - so that will play the movie on UK machines.

So check your player’s region coding acceptability if you want the pricier American Criterion release (must allow REGION A)…or opt for the standard BLU RAY releases from the UK and beyond – most of which feature a far cheaper price tag…
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on 13 April 2003
A great film that shows how the 'war on drugs', like the 'war on alcohol' during Prohibition in America, is unwinnable and futile and merely makes our family members, friend and acquaintances into 'the Enemy' and leaves the world at the mercy of rival murderous millionare criminal drug lords. The only war really being fought is of one drug gang against another. Watch it!
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on 25 July 2001
at the risk of swimming against the tide with my thoughts: this is a good film with solid performances. BUT - and some 'but' this is - I felt the set-up to be full of clichees and pre-fabricated ideas. Everything in this film appears set to confirm what the majority of viewers would come to expect. Thus the scenes shot in the world of politics appear in some steely blue and Mexico is brown - I mean, come on! Most annoying, however, is the character played by C. Zeta-Jones: an obedient house-wife turns into a shrewd narcotics dealer overnight able to disguise heroin in dolls... View it one should but praise it?
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on 25 July 2006
Traffic has three storylines connected with the war against drugs in America. One is about a Senator (Michael Douglas)who is appointed as the countrys drugs tzar but and finds out his daughter is an addict. The second storyline is about a Tijuana cop(Benicio Del Toro) who is the moral conscience of the film and is faced with a dilemna about his work. The third storyline follows a drug barons wife (Catherine Zeta Jones) ,who after her husband is arrested finds out the truth about his work, and two DEA agents (Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman) who are taking surveillance of her and are transporting a drug baron to testify.

Traffic has been inevitably compared to this years 'Syriana' as the writer of Traffic is the writer and director. Syriana is somewhat similar but is alot easier to understand and allround ,a much better film.

The performances are great ,especially by Benicio Del Toro who deservedly won an oscar (and every other award) and gives one of the best performances in a film for years. Also Don Cheadle is very believable as a DEA agent who knows he's fighting a losing battle and Clifton Collins Jr (The last castle ,Tigerland) is impressive as an assasin hired to kill a drug baron that is going to testify.
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on 7 June 2004
They say that genius's steal and that is certainly true for Steven Soderbergh and Steven Gaghan. I bought the screenplay of the film, and nowhere in the introduction do either of them mention that the whole film, almost scene by scene is a complete lift from the Channel 4 mini-series of the same name made over ten years before. All the characters, dialogue and plot of the film are an almost complete, albeit Americanised facsimile of the mini-series with the only difference being that the original was about the heroin trade between Germany, the UK and Pakistan. Lindsay Duncan also made for a much more convincing drug dealer wife than Cathereine Zeta Jones. The film is good and has some nice stylistic flourishes; definitely worth watching. However I do recommend the original series: it's darker and more convincing. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with Soderbergh/ Gaghan making the series into a film - I just think it is rather discourteous, not to say a tad disingenuous for neither of them to cite the original as a direct "inspiration" and to take all the credit for themselves. Naughty!
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on 28 October 2010
This is a fairly long movie but i was engrossed after the opening scene. The film weaves several different, interconnecting stories all linked to drug trafficking. Cathering Zeta Jones is suberb as the wealthy wife who discovers that her husband's fortune isn't made from ligitimate business dealings, there is no way she will give up her life of luxury. Michael Douglas is his usual watchable self playing a government official who has just been given the job of sorting out the USA's drugs problem, little does he know what his teenage, privately educated daughter is getting up to. There are some very violent scenes including torture so this film may not be for the faint hearted. There is an almost-funny scene where the cops are trying to protect an informant whilst staying in a dingy hotel. A very entertaining film.
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VINE VOICEon 5 February 2003
This is the story of the 'war on drugs' told through 3 sets of eyes; a the Mexican cop, a newly appointed drugs czar, and a wealthy wife who discovers her husband is a drug smuggling Mr Big. It is a political film with a message setting out to show the futility of the war and the cost both of that war and of the drugs themselves.
Soderbergh shows his talent as a director both in the cutting edge but never overly flashy direction and in getting outstanding performances from his leads, in particular Benecio Del Toro who provides the moral core of the movie as troubled Mexican cop Xavier. The brave decision to have must of the Mexican scenes in Spanish with subtitles works very well.
However, it is the script that lets the whole thing down slightly. This is a film with a desire to educate as well as entertain. At times lengthy informative speeches are put into the mouths of characters breaking up the flow of the story telling. Also a little too much is put on the story of the drugs tsar with the drug addict daughter. Even Michael Douglas excellent performance can't paper over the cracks of an incredible storyline nor disguise corny ending.
All in all though an ambitious and enthralling film willing to tackle serious issues head on. It should be required watching for many of our political leaders.
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on 16 October 2004
Traffic is by far the best Steven Sondenbergh film.
With great adroitness Sondenbergh managed to treat deeply, thoroughly, harshly (but with sensitivity) the heating problem of drugs. A very good script magnificently incorporated into the interpetations of Douglas, Del Toro and Jones.
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on 4 May 2004
The fact that Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" just happens to be a compelling, brilliant film on its own doesn't hurt - it's just that whether or not it was a "good" movie would have been a little irrelevant no matter what, since either way I'd just be praising it for the cinematography alone: its great use of colour tints to apply to the different stories twisting through this epic drama is worth the rental/purchase alone. However, the fact that I actually did enjoy it on top of all that is a sure bonus.
A gripping tale of the vast and never-ending "War on Drugs", "Traffic" really feels more like a documentry/drama, if anything else, but it also contains many welcome doses of action, suspense, and thrills along the way. Fortunately, the overall presentation of these elements is nothing short of impressive, intelligent, and realistic. Speaking of realism, it is also a blessing that the filmmakers chose to wrap up this film with a vague and "unsolved" ending. The way things work out in the film are, I think, the way things would normally work out in real life. I'm glad they didn't just try to put a clean finish to all the stories and wrap it all up in a neat, tidy little bow (as is often expected of Hollywood).
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