LowComDom Performances Presents
Film Review - Traffic
Traffic is an unusual American movie in that it really isn't trying to tell a story, but rather it is making a political statement. The film wanders in a relatively short time between the many plays in the drug business.
Michael Douglas plays an appellate court judge named the new U.S. Drug Czar. He's very stiff and black and white about this being a war, only to learn that his daughter is smoking heroin. Here's a home of wealth where the drug addict doesn't appear on the outside to fit the profile. She's not in trouble at school, is number three in her class, her parents are not divorced.
While we're on the subject of the rich Americas, Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Helena Ayala, who is shocked to learn that her rich husband doesn't have any legitimate business after he is arrested for being a drug kingpin. Again, the message is not only do the nicest people take drugs, but they also push them. Helena, as they say in Star Wars, turns to the dark side when her world becomes difficult.
On the other side of the U.S. - Mexican border we have police who are trying to do the right thing, but the poverty they live in doesn't make this goal easy. Officer Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro) is a good cop. He sniffs out the drug carriers, with integrity, but he too will be seduced when he is offered a better job in Mexico City. His partner, who is not offered the same deal, wants to work with the Americans which gets him killed.
There are only a few people who are portrayed as being the evil Drug Lords. Almost everyone else is depicted as a victim of the Drug War. Which is an interesting parallel when you consider that most people killed in real wars, are also innocent victims.
The end of the film is not happy. Nor should it be. Here you have had this eye-opening experience, and the end is just as frustrating. Not all films should end on an upbeat note.
Who should see this? If you think the Drug War is a simple issue, this might widen your view. If you have always thought the drug problem was much more complex than Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" program, this will probably be affirming. But if you need a happy ending where all bad guys go to prison, this is not for you.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Released in 2000
MPAA Rating: R
Reviewed by Mongo