You can't get hotter than director Steven Soderbergh right now. So when he decided to turn a generally forgotten British TV serial into a movie, you would imagine he had good reason. And judging by the result - a sprawling, artistic, superbly acted, informative, and mainstream Hollywood movie - he did.
"Traffic" tells three separate tales, which don't overlap, but are all held together by one thematic thread. Michael Douglas is Robert Wakefield, the newly-appointed US drug czar who is forced to confront addiction first-hand in the shape of his wayward daughter (excellent newcomer Christensen). At the same time, Javier, a noble Mexican cop played by Benicio Del Toro, is fighting a losing battle against his local cartels and decides to stand up and be counted. Added to that is the story of narcotics cops Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman who are trying to get proof that society wife Helena (Catherine Zeta Jones) is privy to her husband's drug smuggling operation.
It's an ambitious undertaking, but one that succeeds thanks to truly award-winning work by all concerned. Not one actor deserves singling out for praise, although Benicio Del Toro's understated performance and a heavily-pregnant Catherine Zeta Jones will undoubtedly be associated with Oscar buzz.
But why "Traffic" is a one-off is really down to Soderbergh. The director is not afraid to use offbeat techniques to achieve what he wants and as such the documentary feel, different colour settings for each story, and the Spanish-heavy dialogue of Del Toro's story, create an air of immediacy and authenticity.
Brave, interesting, and stylish - "Traffic" is all these things. So don't delay.
Visit the official "Traffic" website.
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