The Drug War is a Complex and Difficult Problem
Its hard to believe that Traffic (2000) is over 22 years old. The movie was a blockbuster upon its release. A complex, and mostly negative, look at the drug war, the movie earned accolades in its day. It is a great movie and our latest recommendation for the Weekend Buff.
This film came to mind as national attention turns to the fentanyl crisis. Many point to simple, one-dimensional solutions such as, “no incarceration for drug crime” or “build the wall”. Traffic shows the complex nature of the drug trade and how it effects different parts of our society differently.
It shows the drug trade from several different points of view, from Mexican cops to American families. It gives the perspectives of policy makers and poor mules. A real masterpiece of storytelling. It gives us something to think about as cops and as a society.
The storyteller is director Steven Soderbergh. He already had directed acclaimed movies such as Sex, Lies, and Videotape and Erin Brockovich by the time Traffic was being made. These successes allowed him to assemble an all-star cast for Traffic including Michael Douglass, Benicio del Toro, James Brolin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dennis Quaid, and Don Cheadle.
All shine in their diverse roles. del Toro was outstanding in his role as Javier Rodriguez, the Mexican Police Officer. Michael Douglas is also excellent as Robert Wakefield, the new Director of Drug Control Policy who has his eyes opened to the difficulties of his new job. Cheadle and Luis Guzman are naturals as DEA Agents. The rest of the cast is good, providing drama and thrills throughout.
The film was well received after its release. It was nominated for Best Picture and won Oscars for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing. Del Toro also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. It still stands up to this day.
Traffic (2000) is regularly on TV but we couldn’t find it streaming for free. It is available on Amazon Prime, AppleTV, Google Play, and Youtube for rental. Check out this link to Justwatch.com to see all options.