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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another nice release from Alliance
****UPDATE****
Since I first wrote my brief review of the Alliance blu-ray edition of Traffic back in 2009, a few newer releases of Traffic have been released on blu-ray:
--A Universal Studios release (under the Alliance banner here in Canada) was released on April 27th, 2010. It pretty much has the same picture and audio quality as the 2009 Alliance release...
Published on March 13 2009 by C. Denison

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Traffic: Hierarchizing America in the U.S.-Mexico Binary
Traffic opens with a banner on the screen announcing the filmic location to be Mexico, "twenty miles southeast of Tijuana." The film is grainy and has a decidedly yellow (although some have romanticized this color, calling it sepia) tone, and the audience is introduced to two State Police officers, Javier Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro) and Manolo Sanchez (Jacob Vargas), who...
Published on May 9 2004 by Carl Wilkins


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another nice release from Alliance, March 13 2009
By 
C. Denison (Hamilton, Ont.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
****UPDATE****
Since I first wrote my brief review of the Alliance blu-ray edition of Traffic back in 2009, a few newer releases of Traffic have been released on blu-ray:
--A Universal Studios release (under the Alliance banner here in Canada) was released on April 27th, 2010. It pretty much has the same picture and audio quality as the 2009 Alliance release (although the picture quality is now in 1080p and 1.85:1 aspect ratio). It also includes two special features (deleted scenes and a featurette)
--A steelbook version (released by Alliance) was released November 2nd, 2010. It's the exact same disc as the Apr. 27th, 2010 release, only now it's in a nice steelbook edition
--A Criterion Collection version was released on January 17th, 2012. It features SLIGHTLY better video and audio than the Apr. 27th, 2010 release (although the aspect ratio is back to 1.78:1). However, this release contains a lot more special features (3 audio commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, additional scenes, etc.)

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My impressions of the Alliance blu-ray release of Traffic released in 2009.

25GB Single layer disc
Video: 1080i, 1.78:1 aspect ratio
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby and DTS HD-MA, French 5.1 Dolby

I enjoyed the movie. I hadn't wached it since seeing it on VHS quite a few years back, so it was refreshing to watch again; a truly great film. 4 outta 5

Video quality was tricky on this release. The majority of this movie looked more on the softer side, but even with it looking soft there was a lot of detail in some of those scenes. The opening scene of the movie in Mexico had me worrying about the PQ (since it looked below par), but it gets better thankfully. Most scenes that were done in Mexico looked between mediocre and good. Most scenes that were in the US looked between pretty good and excellent. It's just the way the movie was shot really, but it's very watchable. I'd give it an inconsistently solid 4 out of 5.

Audio was okay. Nothing special. The DTS HD-MA track is the stronger track, but not by much really. The audio sounds alright. Dialogue is clear, the musical score sounds nice and sound effects are fine. This isn't a movie with a grand sound design. It's mostly all dialogue driven. I thought the rear channels could've been used a bit more for a better surround sound experience, however this is the way the movie was meant to sound. So the audio, like I said, was just alright. 3.5 out of 5

No extras.
No subtitles
Region 1.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unconventional film that manages to impress, April 5 2004
By A Customer
As you may already know Traffic is a movie about the U.S. drug problem that deals with the issue on all fronts. Traffic is not really an action movie or a drama but it has elements of both. It is more like a fictionalized documentary showing how drugs affect cops, politicians, families, and many others on both side of the border.
Traffic's plot consists of three interwoven tales that all focus on the issue of drugs. Benecio del Toro plays a mexican cop that struggles to fight two immense drug cartels. Catherine Zeta Jones plays a naive, pregnant wife that is thrown off the deep end into drugs when her husband gets arrested for drug trafficking. Michael Douglass plays a newly promoted politician whose job is to lead the fight on the war on drugs. There are many other supporting roles that delicately fill in the gaps between the three basic situations.
Traffic is unique in that there no lead roles in the move. Each story is given equal face time and importance. The notorious color differentiation between the stories is clever, but really nothing more. Overall this movie is very informative and revealing of the actualities of the war on drugs. Much of it is common sense but many subtle contradictions and fallacies are exposed that show why the current policy cannot work (an example is the emphasis of curtailing the dealers and Topher Grace's character explains why dealers are a product of the demand for goods and not vica-versa)
Overall, I found traffic to be an excellent and revealing movie. However, this movie does seem to possess that polarizing effect on people. So, I suggest shoveling out a few bucks to rent it and give it a try.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 'The drug is not in the doll, the drug is the doll', July 5 2007
By 
Jenny J.J.I. "A New Yorker" (That Lives in Carolinas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Traffic (Widescreen) (DVD)
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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2.0 out of 5 stars Flat out, lousy movie-making, June 13 2004
By 
James Terrell - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a frustrating film for many reasons. Firstly the schizophrenia of the plotlines is poorly done and distracting. It merely further hindered me from actually gaining any sort of emotional connection to the characters (and that's counting the headstart the dialogue had given).
The themes of the movie are so apparent that they become oppressive. A previous reviewer encapsulated the film with the phrase: Drugs R bad, and while I can appreciate a noble premise like this, the way Soderbergh badgers the audience with the futility of the "war on drugs" and the affect that drugs have on addicts is devoid of tact and feels contrived to the point of nausea.
The characters are not well-developed either. Their actions are completely obvious. While this is not usually a just complaint about a movie, the lack of intrigue in the plot, the often cheesy dialogue, and the general lack of subtlety makes for an obnoxiously assuming film. It comes across not only snobbish to the layperson, but boring to the average movie-goer.
This movie really drags. This is an in-escapable fact. There were too many trifling scenes in this movie.
But that's just how it rubbed me. Although, I can see how many a pseudo-intellectual film buff could trick himself into gushing about how thought-provoking and "original" this film was, I can also see how many critics and sincere film-goers would like it as well. The message is certainly an important point of discussion regardless of how you feel on the issue, and the conclusions leave much to be debated (although, not about the film)
My main point is this: Unless you're interested in grinding your way through a movie with a plot that can be summarized in the political/humanitarian issue of the film, it's not worth seeing. If you're interested in drug-related issues, do yourself a favor and simply walk, don't run to your nearest bookstore and sift through the myriad of books on the matter. Heck, why not (since you're online anyway) look through one of the lists here at Amazon.com?!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Traffic: Hierarchizing America in the U.S.-Mexico Binary, May 9 2004
This review is from: NEW Traffic (DVD) (DVD)
Traffic opens with a banner on the screen announcing the filmic location to be Mexico, "twenty miles southeast of Tijuana." The film is grainy and has a decidedly yellow (although some have romanticized this color, calling it sepia) tone, and the audience is introduced to two State Police officers, Javier Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro) and Manolo Sanchez (Jacob Vargas), who are speaking Spanish. The dialogue begins with Javier explaining a nightmare to Manolo. Later, Javier and Manolo capture some drug transporters, the audience is introduced to the corrupt General Salazar (Tomas Milian), and the scene shifts to Columbus Ohio, where the graining is removed and the film is saturated with rich blue tones. Two minutes later, San Diego in all its beauty, arrives on screen.
The audience is immediately alerted to the difference between the United States and Mexico. Not only through language, but also through Soderbergh's use of the tobacco filter. But this should not be surprising; establishing differences between the two countries is necessary for Soderbergh to maintain the hierarchical position of the United States over Mexico. And, this hierarchization is, I argue, why Soderbergh is able to critique America, vis-à-vis U.S. drug policy, while still garnering critical and popular praise: implicating Mexico as the agent of America's woes and advancing stereotypical representations of both Mexico and Hispanics, effectively deposits Mexico and its inhabitants into the ancillary position of the U.S./Mexico binary.
Richard Porton's article in Cinéaste discusses the process Soderbergh goes through to create the yellowing of the Mexico scenes in the film. More importantly, in articulates the implications of Soderbergh's yellowing all of Mexico: "[Soderbergh] shot the Mexican sections 'through a tobacco filter' and then overexposed the film to imbue these vignettes with an oversaturated look. Mexico, therefore, becomes a miragelike, evanescent realm where life is cheap and morality is infinitely expendable. As film scholar and Latin American specialist Catherine Benamou observes, the movie 'posits an historical and moral hierarchy between the postmodern United States--which has to retrieve its moral foundations and family values--and premodern Mexico, which has presumably never been able to draw the line between the law and lawlessness'" (42) Significant about the hierarchy advanced by Benamou is that Mexico is implicated on both sides.
First, the film certainly portrays Mexico as a place of lawlessness. This is seen in the opening sequence with the drug transporters: not only are they breaking the law by transporting illegal substances, but General Salazar's intervention highlights (if not immediately, then certainly later in the film) the lawlessness of the federal authorities. Lawlessness is witnessed again twenty-one minutes into the film when two American tourists are pleading for Javier's help in finding their stolen car; here, the corruption of the state authorities is illuminated by Javier's having to give the couple the phone number of a man whom they will pay, who, in turn, will pay the police to make their car appear. And, of course, the hit man Frankie Flowers (Clifton Collins, Jr.) being Hispanic and living in Mexico continues to fortify the notion of Mexico as lawless. Moreover, Soderbergh's representations of Mexicans as savages vis-à-vis the torturing of Frankie Flowers by General Salazar's men also accounts for Benamou's description of Mexico as premodern. The only thing that seems strange is General Salazar yelling to his men that "we are not savages," as if the exclamations of a corrupt official enmeshed in drug trafficking could somehow erase the scenes of stereotypic barbarism that Soderbergh captures through his tobacco filter.
Second, by yellowing all the Mexico sequences in the film, Mexico is implicated as the agent which has, as Benamou states, led the "postmodern United States" astray from its "moral foundations and family values," which it must now retrieve. Wood explains that by "beginning with the yellow camera filters, Soderbergh insinuates that nearly all Mexicans are somehow involved in the drug trade" (761). But the yellowing of Mexico implicates both the people and the land; Wood further states that "from the highest echelons of power to the street dealers and sidemen, Soderbergh's portrayal of life across the border establishes Mexico (and by extension, all of Latin America) as the fountain of evil that is the drug trade" (760).
Since, as Porton claims, Soderbergh's film is "primarily obsessed with how drugs have befouled the American family nest" (42), the argument is thus: (1) Benamou states that the U.S. is in a hierarchical position to Mexico but must still retrieve its moral foundations and family values; (2) these foundations and values are being destroyed by drugs (as seen via the Wakefield family); (3) yellowing the Mexico sequences implicates (nearly) all of Mexico and its inhabitants in the drug trade; (4) therefore, the disintegration of family values and morals in America is a result of lawless Mexico.
In this light, Mexico is doubly culpable: one, Mexico's own lawlessness has averted its progression into a postmodern stage of development; two, Mexico's premodernity and lawlessness has thwarted the United States and threatens to derail their progression to the next stage of cultural development, which allows Soderbergh to make his critique of the United States. Traffic can adduce the United States as a country lacking in morals and family values, but only by simultaneous producing a scapegoat that Americans can point to as the entity responsible for their woes. Wood observes that, by portraying Javier as a "noble soldier while nearly all his compatriots fall prey to kidnapping, assassination, torture, and betrayal, Traffic offers a skewed portrait of Mexican society in getting its anti-drug message across to U.S. audiences" (760).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great director, great team, one wrong cut., March 28 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: NEW Traffic (DVD) (DVD)
This film is truly a team film, because it does not have any true lead. All actors are supporting each other.
Benicio Del Toro, you are a great actor and your character takes time for his choices and has the biggest depth. In every true sense this role is supporting almost to the extent of being the backbone of the movie; Michael's,character has a few amazing scene and Don's character has this big, big finale of the movie after planting the last bug.
Criticsm:
The film takes a moment to take off with storylines complex interwoven, as complex as all of the dealing with not only the drug wars, but wars as such.
Soderbergh gives big moments to actors.
However, I felt that Catherine's character's biggest scene was cut, and should not have been cut, because she was giving birth to her choice. After finishing watching the movie I felt that Chaterine's character made the decision too quickly to turn criminal, the inner conflict was missing. How upset I was when I found the scene as Scene 9 from the Deleted Scenes in the Extra Features of the DVD. It was there, well filmed, brief and strong and probably taken away because the team did not want to victimize anyone into being a criminal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Grim reality: the failure of the war on drugs, Feb. 27 2004
By 
Seg Arch (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
As I look down this list of reviews I can't help but feel like some people missed out on the point of the movie. Yes it has brilliant cinematography and casting. Yes it is a complex and interesting story. Yes it has drug use and dealing in it. But the that is missing the point. This movie is a critique on the war on drugs.
The message of this movie is this: These drugs are harmful and life destroying, but the war on drugs makes these drugs more harmful while adding a fair amount of disaster itself.
If you walk out of this movie thinking you've just seen a "good drug movie" then I've got to say you've missed out. This movie shaped my view on the war on drugs. This is a display of how you can be adamantly against drugs and even more adamantly against the drug war. Because we may kid ourselves and say that we're "fighting drugs", but as in all wars, we're fighting people. Sometimes loved ones, sometimes friends, sometimes even ourselves. And that is a war in which no one can claim victory.
That is the grim reality.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hard hitting.. brilliant, Feb. 6 2004
This review is from: NEW Traffic (DVD) (DVD)
There is no doubt in my mind that Steven Sodeburgh's "Traffic" is one of the best movies ever made on underworld.
The director is on top of his form as he seamlessly weaves 4 different stories bound together by the deadly thread of narcotics.There is the naive but well intentioned Justice Depaartment officla (Michel Douglas) in USA fighting drugs on 2 levels.One as the official in cahrge of War on Drugs and other is fighting to save his daughter who has fallen in the trap of the deadly habit of drugs.On the other side of the battle is a wealthy couple where the husband is arrested on cahrge of drug traffic and his pregnent housewife whose quest for her husband's freedom descends her in to the dark world of drugs and hitmen.On the other side of the border in Mexico where the narcotic dealers rule there is the voice of consceince a mexican cop(Benecio Del Toro in his stunning Oscar winning turn) honest enought not to be involved in the traffic yet street smart enough not to take the drug dealers head on.
The pace is slow and the director makes a conscious effort to take a matured view on the drug war without sounding too righteous,also none of the stories end when the movies finshes thus leaves the intellegent viewer enought material to think over.
The all star cast includes Michel Douglas,Katherine Zeta Jones and the Oscar winner Benecio Del toro all give memorable perfomramce.Even the fringe cast of Dennis Quaid,Don Chedale pass the bill satisfactorily.
God father this movie is not but if you want to see a serious thought provoking movie then "Traffic"is your choice,it is my choice mainly because of Benecio Del Toro's incredialby charismatic performance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Traffic, Feb. 5 2004
I had went to theaters to see this movie. Mainly because the previews said it was a knockout, brilliant, and in every critics top 10 list. I was a little skeptical at first, but once it starts it pulls you in. From begining to end, this film lacks nothing. The film interweaves three stories three stories with one basic link --- drugs. There's two undercover cops (Luis Guzman and Don Cheadle) who bust a dope peddler (Miguel Ferrer) who rats out his supplier (Steven Bauer) --- whose pampered housewife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) learns of her husbands dirty business. Then there is a newly-appointed Drug Czar (Michael Douglas) who is fighting the drug trafficking very well, but is failing with his increasingly drug-addicted daughter (Erika Christensen). On the Mexican drug-side, we have a cop (Academy Award Winner Benecio Del Torro) trying to clean up the streets, but on the other hand trying to help a crooked General (Tomas Milian) that he doesn't know he's helping. This film is really the definitive drug-film. Unlike most, which either deals with addiction (Requiem For A Dream) or the trafficking side (Scarface), this film succeeds in both area's. Academy Award winning director Steven Soderberg knocks this one out of the ball-park. Like most GREAT directors, you can tell when a director is going to be great --- great acting comes from good directing. The cinematography is outstanding. The Mexico scenes have a rich, but gritty feel to them. The Washington scenes are very dim, very dull. The San Deigo scenes are rich in color and have almost a blinding feel to it. All masterfully done. Benecio Del Torro really stole the show, successfully grabbing his first Oscar. I'm sure it won't be the last. He's also up for 'Best Supporting Actor' for his powerful performance as a born-again Christian in the hit film "21 Grams" (also a great film). For a great film, filled with magnificent performances and brilliant camera-work and directing, don't miss out on "Traffic".
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4.0 out of 5 stars An argument for decriminalization?, Jan. 24 2004
By 
Alessandro Bruno (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: NEW Traffic (DVD) (DVD)
A little background first. Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari from 1988 to 1994 was sent in exile to the United States after he lost the election to Ernesto Zedillo in 1995; wherefrom, the FBI discovered an enormous recycling of drug traffic money that belonged to the ex-President. It was subsequently discovered that the one running this trade was the President's brother Raul. All this and more is lurking behind the film "Traffic", a mind-boggling intrigue of drugs, dirty money and politics. It is a very difficult cinematic job to combine these elements along with the social degradation, which results, especially in terms of the teen-ager population that is affected, without resorting to moralist and dogmatic messages. The results of "Traffic" are undeniably high and the film shows Soderbergh's talent in treating political subject matter. However, the reason I did not give this film the full five stars is because I prefer the British original film that sets the events in Pakistan. This film eerily discussed the issues surrounding the drug trade along the Pakistan - Afghanistan border and the difficulty that authorities of all stripes - the Taliban had actually been the most successful even if their methods were very crude - at reducing the cultivation of poppies. That being said, this film along with the book "Reefer Madness"' by Eric Schlosser will help you undertand the gravity of the drug problem as well as the infectiveness and injustice of the methods employed by governments to restrict the tarde and use of narcotics.
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Traffic (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Traffic (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] by Steven Soderbergh (Blu-ray - 2012)
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