A contemporary thriller set in the world of drug trafficking, “Traffic” is told through a series of interrelated stories, some of which are highly personal, some of which are filled with intrigue and danger.
A pair of undercover DEA agents work in the sordid and dangerous world of San Diego dealers; a wealthy drug baron living in upscale suburban America is arrested and learns how quickly his unknowing and pampered wife takes over his business; the U.S. President’s anti-drug czar must deal with his increasingly drug-addicted teenage daughter; and a Mexican policeman finds himself caught in a web of corruption.
It’s brilliant! Engrossing from start to finish, with exceptional performances, “Traffic” is exceptional filmmaking with something important to say. Most viewers will leave the theater knowing more about this insidious multi-billion dollar industry than when they walked in. In a way, “Traffic” is also a parable. While it shows the frustration of battling the corrosiveness of drugs on society, it makes it clear that while there are those who wish to put illegal substances into their bodies no matter how many examples they’ve seen of its destructiveness, there are those willing to grow, sell and distribute the junk for them to do it. By giving us this potent message, it reminds us that rebellion to biblical teaching also leads to destructiveness. And that it takes a concerted effort, a longing to seek God’s will for our lives, for us to successfully travel the paths of life. That may not have been the intended message of the filmmakers, but that’s what it’s saying. Alas, while R-rated movies such as “Dead Man Walking,” “Schindler’s List,” “L.A. Confidential,” and “The Green Mile” were wondrous films, containing redemptive messages, I have always been an opponent of that rating. I believe any subject matter can be filmed without assaulting the audience. That’s my only problem with this production. (Sixty-three uses of the F-word! Come on.) While there are many associated with the drug world who use that kind of language, this film depicts every single character with a propensity for that word. Due to the excessive language and some sexual situations, I am unable to recommend this Oscar-worthy effort. But I will say this, that unlike so many R-rated films, other than the excessive use of obscene language, I didn’t find anything exploitive about the content. The film makes powerful statements about family responsibility and the need to care about our fellow man. And while its theme and plotlines tend to unnerve, director Steven Soderbergh masterfully entertains, teaches and touches the soul.