on May 4, 2016
Excellent acting with full cast, well-written drama, winner of four Academy awards,
And interesting technique of going from a movie to an apparent documentary genre
With a variety of deep colours to present a true look of harsh reality.
Could be considered dated (2000) in terms of similar dramas produced since then,
However, this movie is unique in quality and worth watching more than once.
on June 26, 2014
Started out slow , But drew me into the story line after the first 20 minutes. I ended up loving this movie but had my doubts at first. If you like a hard hitting story line you will enjoy this movie.A thinker piece. hope to watch again soon.
on January 6, 2014
Excellent triller à saveur politique, dramatique et différence culturelle...D'excellents comédiens appuient ce film dont l'excellent Michael Douglas, Benecio Del Toro et Catherine Zeta-Jones...À ne pas oublier les autres acteurs de soutien qui sont aussi excellents. à voir absolument!
Traffic(released Dec/2000) sports a high powered cast with a very compelling storyline that has more than a few messages to impart to us about the so called "war" on drugs,in this case,between the U.S. and Mexico.Based on the /89 British mini-series,with another mini-series made in the U.S. in 2004,director Steven Soderbergh first pitched and wooed Fox films for backing.But due to their differences Fox dropped the project and USA films picked it up.There were still minor difference to iron out but in the end Soderbergh got full control over the project and what a job he did.Who could go wrong with a powerhouse cast of the likes of Michael Douglas,Benecio Del Toro,Luis Guzman,Don Cheadle,Catherine Zeta Jones,Dennis Quaid,Salma Hayek,Amy Irving,Albert Finney,James Brolin,Benjamin Bratt and many more.
The plot has three simultaneous stories unfolding, each touching the other ever deeper as the film winds its way to the end.First there are the two Mexican state policemen,Javier Rodriguez(Del Toro) and his partner Manolo Sanchez(Vargas) and the drug war between two drug cartels in and around Tijuana,Mexico;between the Juarez Cartel and the Obregon Brothers Cartel.Enters General Salazar(Tomas Milian)supposedly working for the army and the government but in reality being used by the Juarez cartel to snuff out the Obregons.The General puts the squeeze on Javier and Manolo and they are soon working for him.But eventually they both start filtering info to the U.S. government,with Manolo getting taken out for his efforts by the General.Eventually Salazar himself,with Javiers info,is taken down as his corruption is revealed to the media on both sides of the border.
The second story involves an Ohio judge(Douglas) who is appointed to a presidential taskforce on drug control.As he familiarizes himself with the formidable task before him,the drug war he is fighting is closer to his home than he thinks.Their daughter Caroline(Erika Christensen)needs for nothing,lives in a beautiful home and goes to a private school.However along with several classmates,she is deeply involved with drugs.Her life spins faster and faster out of control with her parents apparently unable,too busy or just in plain denial,to do anything about it.In the end her father tracks her down to a sleazy motel room and finds her naked in a bed,higher than a kite.He takes her home and both she AND her parents attend recovery meetings with her faithfully.The judge gives up his position as the head of the task force to deal with his daughters problems.
The third story involves two DEA agents by the names of Montel Gordon(Cheadle) and Ray Castro(Guizman).The two become involved in the take down of a local businessman Eduardo Ruiz(Miguel Ferrer),who runs a local storage facility but is a front for drug smuggling.The bust goes down but just as the DEA swoops in,local law enforcement,unaware of each others involvement,gets the jump on them.The confusion caused,almost allows Ruiz to escape.Ruiz eventually decides to turn his drug boss over in exchange for immunity.His boss is also a local businessman,Carlos Ayala(Steven Bauer)and when he gets taken down his wife(Jones)is left to fend for herself.On a jail visit he tells her about a painting in their study.She investigates and finds the names of local contacts including a hitman and several out of country accounts he has.When she is threatened by a rep from the Mexican drug cartel for a money debt,the Obregan cartel in fact,she decides to pay a visit to them personally.She smuggles in pre-molded cocaine which is totally undetectable by sniffer dogs or any agents;this one being in the shape of a toy.In exchange for this new way of smuggling drugs she asks for total control of the drug distribution in the U.S.from the cartel,forgiveness of the money her husband owes and to take out Ruiz,the DEA witness.The deal is made and in short order Ruiz is dispatched through simple food poisoning.Because of this the DEA's case is dropped and Ayala is set free.However the DEA still plugs away as agent Gordon crashes Ayala's homecoming party,planting a bug under his study desk.
The subject of drug trafficking is a sordid and complicated mess.The movie amply points out that the drug lords have more of EVERYTHING when it comes to resources than any government agency.The well known corruption of the Mexican government both state and local is also fleshed out.The so called"war" is anything but;more like a rout in reality.Money buys alot and the government not only has to contend with the Mexican drug trade but also their tentacles,which stretch into the very fabric of North American society from those that sell it(from the big shots to the little guys on the street)to the buyers themselves.Soderbergh does a masterful job unfolding all three stories and in a non-complicated manner.This film won four Academy awards and it is not surprising to see why.
Technically speaking this print was made from a new digital transfer,with the Spanish subtitles presented as they were in the original U.S.prints,as per the directors request.It is in its original a/r of 1:85:1 and is clear and crisp.The soundtrack was mastered from the original 24 bit master and includes Dolby 2.1 and 5.1.There are two discs.The first contains,the movie,three commentaries,two music cues not included in the film,and more.The second disc includes:25 deleted scenes with commentary,a look at making the Mexican film sequences,an editing demo,dialogue editing demo,theatrical and TV trailers,30 minutes of additional footage(this film was originally 180 minutes),and more.It is all housed in a two section snap case with a small booklet included.
All in all a highly recommended film.No wonder that the film won four Academy awards with this cast and great storyline.And of course as I always say:A Criterion release is a superior release,so you know you are getting the best.
on December 14, 2014
A must have for any cinephile or intelligent movie goer. What's nice with the Criterion version is it's in depth look at the complexities of the production as well (via the 2nd DVD disc) The literal painstaking process to get film texture and coloring just so. And audio clean up via mixing and looping with ProTools. Plus, the curious paradox of 'deleted scenes' along with 'additional footage'. Which better exemplify why the movie is what it is, and yet could've been a bit more without too much compromise. But based on the subject matter, and it's never ending complexity to this day - sadly any extra inclusion would merely be 'more of the same'. But gives such a insight that the entire cast and crew had such heart and soul in this production, it boils the larger than life scope of the actual movie down to appreciative workable level. Soderbergh knows his stuff, and the owner of this Criterion version soon will too.
on September 18, 2012
I saw "Traffic" twice in the theatres when it originally came out and I was only 16 years old at the time. It definitely left an impression on me as an act of filmmaking and story telling. To see it again in a luscious new Blu-Ray transfer is to be reminded of what a masterpiece is.
Criterion's Blu-Ray release of "Traffic" offers up this gritty looking film in stunning HD. The movie was intentionally made to look really raw and grainy and that look is preserved here. The original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 has been slightly opened up to 1.78:1 which does not affect the movie whatsoever (in the booklet that comes with the Blu-Ray it says that director Steven Soderbergh prefers this aspect ratio.) The extras are the same as the previous DVD release from Criterion and are all fascinating and really help one's appreciation of the film to grow.
This is a cinematic classic that was hailed by critics and audiences alike. Do not hesitate to buy "Traffic".
on April 5, 2004
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.
on March 2, 2013
oddly enough, even though i rate this 3 stars, i am preferring this alliance blu-ray xfer of the film over the universal and criterion, which have been altered from it's original theatrical presentation ...... to be sharper and to essentially have more robust colour timing (by possible removal of filters that were used originally)...... all approved by the director.
the alliance disc is interlaced as well. which is inexcusable really. 1080i
so i dock 2 stars off the score, as a progressive transfer is what this, and ALL films deserve.
I saw this film in the cinema, when it opened, and I am most definitely a fan of that particular version ..... when it comes to it's visual presentation for home video.
the segments in mexico are supposed to look that blown out and soft .....
i think it works beautifully. as does the extremely minimal sound design. i say this as sound fx editor ...... the sound of the film promotes contemplation from the viewer , rather than passively being overwhelmed by the 'in your face' sonic detail of typical modern day films ......... the images, the dialog, and the score, are the big players in this film.
5 stars for the film
3 for the transfer.
ultimately, it is nice to have a choice .... and so, one can see comparisons of the various HD xfers of this film online
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.
on May 9, 2004
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).