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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> June 2001 >> Traffic


Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
4 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
June 2001
IMDB Name:
Traffic (2000)
Steven Soderbergh
drama, suspense
MPAA Rating:
R for pervasive drug content, strong language, violence and some sexuality.


Traffic is an amazingly ambitious movie, performing a juggling act few writers, directors, editors, and cinematographers would dare. It manages somehow to weave four interlocking stories into a coherent picture of the United States battle against cocaine. The association of visual styles with the different locations helps keep things straight even as the action caroms all over North America. The editing is remarkably good, given the challenge of keeping all four threads close enough that we don't forget what was happening in them. The movie makes another noteworthy decision: letting the Mexican characters speak Spanish with English subtitles. I would consider it a major directorial challenge to direct roles in foreign languages.

Traffic covers an extraordinary amount of territory in 147 minutes. The characters range from the peons to the kingpins on both sides of the fight, and all are capably written and acted. I was especially fond of "That '70s Show"'s Topher Grace in his cinematic debut. His diatribes directed at Michael Douglas are delivered with terrific energy. Benicio Del Toro's Spanish-language part is consistently excellent.

Although 99% of Traffic is not afraid of the power of its content, there seems to be a misguided attempt to make the ending as upbeat as possible. This didn't ring true with the rest of the movie, and undercut the drama of everything that preceded it.

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Copyright 2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.