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Click above to purchase "Traffic" at amazon.com

 

Traffic

review by Zach B.

 

Rated R

Studio: USA

Running Time: 147 minutes

Starring Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta Jones, Luis Guzman

Screenplay by Stephen Gaghan
Based on the British Mini-Series "Traffik" by Simon Moore

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Retail Price: $26.95

Features: "Inside Traffic" Featurette, Photo Gallery, Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Keep Case Insert Production Notes

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (68 Chapters)

While watching the Oscars® this past year, "Traffic" did some like an underdog of sorts with only five nominations. However, there was a point I felt it was going to sweep the awards. Four out of five ain't bad at all, but "Gladiator"'s Best Picture win just further proves how much of a popularity contest the Academy Awards® are.

Raves from critics and big box office business, "Traffic" was one of the most noteworthy movies of last year. While some felt it was robbed of Best Picture, this is a movie that will stand the test of time and still be remembered many years from now. This is truly an important and accurate movie about drug trafficking that so many people should see and experience. The plot and themes are really essential to this movie, and the commentary on the drug war and how it may never die makes the film more satisfying. This movie shows what effects drugs can have on so many different people.

Based on the 1989 mini-series "Traffik", this much shorter version (and Americanized) follows several intertwined stories that are developed with much care and come together perfectly. One story involves Robert Wakefield, the newly appointed US Drug Czar. His career thrives, however, as it's his job to help stop drugs cocaine use is strong within his daughter and his wife was once a drug addict herself. Another story follows Javier Rodriguez, a Mexican cop who is caught within his job and his principles while another story has a drug trafficker's wife named Helena take over the business as her husband is arressted. She doesn't want to give up her life style. Finally, two San Diego based DEA agents are caught up in one of the above plots.

There's so much to like about "Traffic", I don't know where to begin. I guess I'll start with the acting. Of course, Benicio Del Toro does an amazing job as Javier Rodriguez, a Mexican cop who is caught in a conflict between his work and himself. Del Toro's role is largely in Spanish and is simply amazing. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones give powerful performances while Luis Guzman and Don Chedle have great chemistry as the DEA agents. There's a ton of great ensemble acting here, and it's no wonder why this movie won "Best Ensemble" at the SAG Awards.

While I've never seen the original "Traffik", Stephen Gaghan's script here is fabulous. The story is well timed and even, complete with really emotional and well-rounded scenes with great dialogue. There's just a great, even pace that a movie like this can mess up miserably but thankfully doesn't.

The editing is great and won the Oscar®, and Soderbergh, a great director who's made quite a leap during the past few years also won. He really deserved it. He does so much with this movie and really pushes it to the bone. His style, the way the film flows, the different color choices and how he presents things are excellent. What I did feel get snubbed though was the cinematography. It really brings Soderbergh's vision to life and the camera movemens have a life of their own. This movie has a lot of great, detailed and breathtaking shots. It really stands out.

So that's "Traffic"... I barely scratched the surface with it. There's a lot more to this movie. If you haven't seen it, sit yourself down, watch and be impressed. One of the best movies of the year 2000 for sure.

 

"Traffic" does feature a variety of different styles to represent its story lines, and this transfer represents them quite nicely. From the washed out, documentary-style of Mexico to the bold, hard edge colors of the American scenes, there's a lot to admire within Soderbergh's style and choices to present the film. The result is a great, strong look that makes the film effectful. The movie is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and despite some grain, noise and shimmering, this is a strong transfer.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital on "Traffic" is a bit disappointing. I kept wondering when surrounds were going to kick in, but a lot of the film uses the front channels surprisngly. Not to say that this track doesn't pack surrounds. When there are surrounds they pack a strong punch, but this is a movie that should really use all the speakers a good amount of the time since there is a lot of action. However, that's not the case. It's not a bad track at all, I felt the need for more activity. Dialogue is crisp and clear and there was no distortion at all. An Dolby Digital English 2.0 track is included as well as English closed captions, English subtitles, French subtitles and Spanish subtitles. One English subtitle track is for the stream of foreign languages in the film (that's automatically turned on) while the other is for everything.

For a film that was commercially and critically successful, it's kind of puzzling why the "Traffic" DVD doesn't have more features. While Soderbergh regused to do a commentary for this release, you do have some pretty standard supplements.

There is a US Teaser Trailer and US Theatrical Trailer in non-anamorphic widescreen and two channel sound. A German Trailer is also included while there are five US TV Spots.

A forty still Photo Gallery is included while a nineteen minute featurette called Inside Traffic is the main supplement. The latter is purely promotional and features clips from the movie as well as interviews with Soderbergh, Gaghan, Douglas, Quaid, Zeta Jones and others. Nothing new or exciting.

There also 68 chapter stops... wow. It's a long movie, and it's the most I've seen on a single DVD yet. Also, the keep case insert has a lot of nice production notes.

While the 5.1 is a bit disappointing, the video presentation is nice and the supplements are sadly lacking. However, this is a great, important movie that everyone should really check out. If you liked it, "Traffic" should be in your collection.

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(3.5/5)

(2/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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