Traffic

Traffic

4.3 9
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro

     
 

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Described by director Steven Soderbergh as "Nashville meets The French Connection, this multi-character drama explores the effects of international drug trafficking on all fronts: from their source, to the U.S. border, to the federal government, to the private lives of users. Based upon a miniseries originally aired on Britain's Channel 4, TrafficSee more details below

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Overview

Described by director Steven Soderbergh as "Nashville meets The French Connection, this multi-character drama explores the effects of international drug trafficking on all fronts: from their source, to the U.S. border, to the federal government, to the private lives of users. Based upon a miniseries originally aired on Britain's Channel 4, Traffic divides its time among three main storylines and almost a dozen locales. The first and primary plot thread, set in Ohio and Washington, D.C., concerns freshly-appointed drug czar Robert Wakefield (Michael Douglas), whose enthusiasm for his new prestige position is quickly offset when he realizes his 16-year-old daughter Caroline (Erika Christensen) is graduating from recreational drug use to habitual abuse -- a secret that his wife, Barbara (Amy Irving), has kept from him. South of the border, Mexican cop Javier Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro) attempts to wage his own war on drugs, heading off a cocaine shipment in the middle of the desert with his less-than-virtuous partner Manolo Sanchez (Jacob Vargas). Surrounded by corruption, Javier approaches the drug war with an attitude of patience and compromise, which opens him up to investigation from General Arturo Salazar (Tomas Milian), the country's dubious drug-enforcement liaison to the U.S. Meanwhile, San Diego drug kingpin Carlos Alaya (Steven Bauer) is caught in a sting operation spearheaded by DEA agents Montel Gordon (Don Cheadle) and Ray Castro (Luis Guzman), leaving behind his very pregnant and very oblivious wife, Helena (Catharine Zeta-Jones). At the behest of Carlos' lawyer and shady confidante, Arnie Metzger (Dennis Quaid), Helena decides to carry on the family business -- with tragic consequences. Adapted by Rules of Engagement scribe Stephen Gaghan, Traffic marked Soderbergh's second major release in 2000 after the critical and box-office success of Erin Brockovich, as well as his second feature as cinematographer (credited under the pseudonym Peter Andrews). A favorite with various guild and critics' awards, Traffic won four Academy Awards in 2001, including statues for Best Supporting Actor (Del Toro) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Gaghan), and surprise wins for Steven Mirrone's editing and Soderbergh's direction.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Drug users, dealers, and smugglers mix it up with the law in Steven Soderbergh's highly acclaimed, multi-award-winning Traffic. Based on a British TV miniseries, the film features an ensemble cast that includes Michael Douglas as the newly appointed federal drug czar whose 16-year-old daughter (Erika Christensen) just happens to be snorting, smoking, and mainlining her way through a potpourri of illegal substances. Catherine Zeta-Jones portrays the wife of a drug lord (Steven Bauer) whose world crumbles around her when he's arrested. Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro is riveting in his supporting role as a Mexican policeman who is enlisted to help bring down a Tijuana drug cartel. Also outstanding are Don Cheadle, as a DEA agent, and Dennis Quaid, as Bauer's high-priced lawyer. Traffic moves briskly back and forth between its various stories and locales, both north and south of the Mexican border, with characters and situations that are not so much original as archetypal. There's just enough philosophizing to be provocative and just enough action to get your pulse racing. Even though the film struggles to achieve a comprehensive overview, the result is never less than entertaining and absorbing. Certainly, Traffic is an impressive feat for Soderbergh, who not only directed the film but did all the gritty, handheld cinematography as well, giving each story line a distinctive palette: icy blue for the sequences involving Douglas and his wayward daughter; a sun-blasted brownish hue for the Mexico scenes. He was amply rewarded for his efforts, winning the Best Director Oscar. Traffic is Hollywood filmmaking with a distinctively personal stamp, a film that flirts easily with a host of clichés without succumbing to them.
All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
Steven Soderbergh's magnum opus on the drug war, Traffic offers yet another one of the director's efforts to take conventionally engrossing, Hollywood-formula material and imbue it with a sense of authenticity, unpredictability, and vitality, much as he did with his wildly successful Erin Brockovich earlier in the year. Some seams still show -- namely, the all-too-ironic script conceit that the country's new drug czar happens to have an addict for a daughter -- but by and large, Traffic is issue-oriented storytelling of the highest order. To call the film a tour de force would be misleading; it's an intimate epic, and Soderbergh seems determined to make all of the script's grand statements resonate on a personal level. To this end, he's helped by his stable of performers: Michael Douglas is appropriately stiff as the conservative Ohio judge who learns he's in over his head in his new position; Catharine Zeta-Jones makes a believable transformation from naïve, pampered housewife to hard-edged schemer; Erika Christensen takes the aforementioned addict-daughter character and makes it her own, suggesting that habitual abuse can arise from the most banal of circumstances; and Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman provide subtle shadings to what could have been a standard buddy-cop routine. Best of all is Benicio Del Toro, whose cunning, straight-arrow cop, Javier Rodriguez, provides the film's heart and soul. Soderbergh's cinematography (credited under the pseudonym Peter Andrews) complements the performers, eschewing establishing shots, grandiose camerawork, and traditional Hollywood framing in favor of simple shifts in color and film stock to indicate place, mood, and time. Steven Mirrone's editing also flatters the audience's ability to make connections on their own, halting scenes as soon as a point has been made, and allowing others to linger onscreen to create palpable atmosphere. Instead of favoring the loud, overbearing rhythms which accompany most hot-button "issue films," Soderbergh quietly and consistently tightens his vice grip on the audience, allowing a breather only in the film's semi-hopeful dénouement. Though it may provide all of the pleasures of conventionally grand melodrama, Traffic feels unlike any epic that has come before it.
New York Times - Stephen Holden
Steven Soderbergh's great, despairing squall of a film, "Traffic", may be the first Hollywood movie since Robert Altman's "Nashville" to infuse epic cinematic form with jittery new rhythms and a fresh, acid- washed palette.

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Product Details

Release Date:
03/07/2006
UPC:
0715515017220
Original Release:
2000
Rating:
R
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
2:27:00
Sales rank:
40,016

Special Features

Disc One - The Movie:; Digital transfer, enhanced for 16x9 televisions; Three commentary tracks: director Steven Soderbergh and writer Stephen Gaghan; producers Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, and Laura Bickford, and consultants Tim Golden and Craig Chretien; and composer Cliff Martinez (featuring two music cues not included in the final film; Dolby Digital 5.1 theatrical mix and 2.0 reduced dynamic range home video mix; English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing; ; Disc Two - The Supplements:; Twenty-five deleted scenes, featuring commentary by Soderbergh and Gaghan; Film processing demonstration: Achieving the look of the Mexico sequences; Editing demonstration, with commentary by editor Stephen Mirrione; Dialogue editing demonstration with sound editor Larry Blake; Thirty minutes of additional footage, featuring multiple angles from the scenes of the El Paso Intelligence Center and the cocktail party where U.S. senators, major politicians, lobbyists, and others express their views on the drug war; Theatrical and television trailers; U.S. Customs trading cards of the K-9 squad used in the detection of narcotics and illegal substances

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Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michael Douglas Robert Wakefield
Don Cheadle Montel Gordon
Benicio Del Toro Javier Rodriguez
Luis Guzman Ray Castro
Dennis Quaid Arnie Metzger
Catherine Zeta-Jones Helena Ayala
Erika Christensen Caroline Wakefield
Steven Bauer Carlos Ayala
Benjamin Bratt Juan Obregon
James Brolin Ralph Landry
Clifton Collins Francisco Flores
Miguel Ferrer Eduardo Ruiz
Albert Finney Chief of Staff
Topher Grace Seth Abrahms
Amy Irving Barbara Wakefield
Tomas Milian Arturo Salazar
D.W. Moffett Jeff Sheridan
Marisol Padilla Sanchez Ana Sanchez
Peter Riegert Attorney Michael Adler
Jacob Vargas Manolo Sanchez
Rena Sofer Helena's Friend
Mario Roberts DEA Agent (Public Storage)
Viola Davis Actor
Michael Showers Actor
Stephen Dunham Actor

Technical Credits
Steven Soderbergh Director
Peter Andrews Cinematographer
Greg Berry Set Decoration/Design
Laura Bickford Producer
Keith P. Cunningham Art Director
Louise Frogley Costumes/Costume Designer
Stephen Gaghan Screenwriter
Tim Golden Consultant/advisor
Marshall Herskovitz Producer
Greg Jacobs Asst. Director
Cameron Jones Executive Producer
Graham King Executive Producer
Andreas Klein Executive Producer
Paul Ledford Sound/Sound Designer
Cliff Martinez Score Composer
Philip Messina Production Designer
Stephen Mirrione Editor
Mike Newell Executive Producer
Maya Shimoguchi Set Decoration/Design
Richard Solomon Executive Producer
Barbara Ann Spencer Set Decoration/Design
Debra Zane Casting
Edward Zwick Producer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Traffic [Special Edition]
1. A Bust in the Desert [3:05]
2. General Salazar [2:34]
3. Robert Leaves Ohio [2:23]
4. Meeting Ruiiz [5:10]
5. After School [2:19]
6. Helena Lunches [1:38]
7. Robert Is Briefed [1:35]
8. General Landry [1:41]
9. Javi & the Tourists [1:44]
10. Georgetown Party [1:36]
11. Ruiz in the Hospital [1:42]
12. Carl Is Arrested [:57]
13. Salazar Asks for Help [2:18]
14. Back Home in Ohio [1:21]
15. Arnie Briefs Helena [1:26]
16. Javier Picks up Frankie [2:07]
17. Caroline At a Party [3:54]
18. Frankie's Interrogation [1:14]
19. Arnie Explains the Business [2:37]
20. Caroline At Jail [1:48]
21. Caroline Is Questioned [2:15]
22. Salazar Plays "Good Cop" [1:40]
23. Bail Denied [3:16]
24. Ruiz Gives His Statement [2:00]
25. Dinner With Frankie [2:40]
26. Obregón Cartel Hit [1:30]
27. Inspecting the Border [1:09]
28. Helena Visits Carl [1:19]
29. Scoring Drugs [2:21]
30. Helena Is Theatened [1:45]
31. Ana Looks for Manolo [2:28]
32. Robert Gets Epic Tour [1:46]
33. Robert Talks to His Staff [1:29]
34. Helena Asks for Money [2:00]
35. The Scorpion [3:14]
36. Robert & Barbara Argue [1:51]
37. Robert Catches Caroline [2:14]
38. Javier in the Pool [:11]
39. Helena Makes Lemonade [2:05]
40. Caroline in Rehab [2:32]
41. Helena Fits Pieces Together [1:47]
42. Robert Visits Salazar [3:06]
43. A New Home: Testimony [1:54]
44. Helena Meets Frankie [1:54]
45. Caroline Escapes [1:31]
46. Ana Is Worried [:39]
47. Looking for Caroline (Day) [1:13]
48. Caroline Pays for Drugs [1:09]
49. Escorted to Court [1:48]
50. Frankie Stalks Ruiz [2:16]
51. Manolo in San Diego [3:15]
52. Two Graves [1:23]
53. Looking for Caroline (Night) [2:30]
54. Javier Comforts Ana [1:22]
55. Helena & Obregón Make a Deal [1:47]
56. Javier Goes on the Wire [2:32]
57. Monte At the Funeral [1:15]
58. Robert Is Told About Salazar [1:42]
59. "Field Trip" [1:21]
60. Caroline's Pusher [1:36]
61. Javier Talks To Ana [1:37]
62. Robert Follows Seth [1:27]
63. Ruiz's "Big Day" [2:06]
64. Another Desert Bust [3:10]
65. Press Conference [2:37]
66. Arnie Confronted: Monte Visits [4:19]
67. "We're Here": Night Baseball [3:07]
68. End Titles [4:28]
69. Color Bars [4:45]
Disc #2 -- Traffic [Special Edition]
1. Manolo's Anxiety Escalates [1:06]
1. Javier Warns Manolo [:34]
1. Surveillance [1:03]
1. Old Friends [1:34]
1. Legalization [:52]
1. Auction [:46]
1. Arnie Confronts Helena [:34]
1. Madrigal's Mistress & Manolo [:39]
1. Helena Wants to Help [:43]
1. Art Appraisal [1:01]
1. Helena Gets Involved [:49]
1. Robert's Lunch With Seth [2:43]
1. Helena Asks to Meet Obregón [1:28]
1. Factory [1:00]
1. Robert Finds Caroline's Drugs [:58]
1. Obregón Tests Helena [1:56]
1. Helena Searched At Border [1:40]
1. Arnie Comes Through [:49]
1. Helena's Meeting At Fun Zone [:52]
1. Robert Drives Caroline Home [:51]
1. Javier Makes Obregón An Offer [1:03]
1. Robert Meets Javier [1:42]
1. Madrigal's Mistress & Javier [:42]
1. Monte Continues Surveillance [:22]
1. Gag [:34]

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