Best of WNY.com
lMovie Review
"Traffic"
By Mira Harber
   This is one scary movie. No, it's not Friday the 13th part 27; it's Traffic, a film about the U.S. war on drugs. This is one bleak, uncompromising, brutal and very truthful movie. An all-star cast is assembled, featuring stories that begin as far apart as San Diego, Cincinnati, Washington, and Tijuana, Mexico.
    "Just Say No" just isn't working and here we see how the drug trade between two rapidly disappearing borders does work. It is swift, cruel and violent. This is a game of BIG money and life is cheap when this much money is at stake.
   The film opens with two Mexican policemen staking out a major shipment of cocaine. The heart and soul of this film is without a doubt Benicio del Toro. You've seen him before in The Usual Suspects, Living & Dying in Las Vegas and Swimming with Sharks. Here he plays a magnificent role as an honest (one of the few) Mexican policemen. The police in Mexico are said to be involved in 'free enterprise' as opposed to keeping the law. Except in the case of Benecio del Toro. He speaks volumes without having to say a lot. His body language and eyes are extraordinarily expressive. To me, he makes the movie. He is totally convincing in this gritty and complex role, and if he doesn't win an Oscar for this, it is a crime!!!
We have the drug trade between Mexico and the U.S. and we see the lives of the police/drug traffickers and US law enforcement all converging on the border town of Tijuana.
    Michael Douglas plays the newly appointed U.S. Drug Czar in the war against drugs. Only problem is, he's never home, and his A+, student, daughter is a drug addict herself, freebasing cocaine and throwing an over-dosing fellow student out the car door at a hospital entrance as she attempts to get away without being seen.Catherine Zeta-Jones plays the San Diego society, trophy wife of a 'businessman' who is suddenly arrested for drug trafficking. She never really bothered to find out what kind of 'business' her husband was in, but now that she knows, she adapts quickly. Her survival skills are sharply honed.
    The intrepid police (DEA) are wonderful, particularly Don Cheadle. They are involved in several of the stories, including the one where a medium size drug lord, played by Miguel Ferrer, is preparing to testify against the San Diego businessman.
    All of these stories come to fruition in a sometimes violent, often brutal and always truthful way. This movie is frightening. It raises a lot of serious questions about drugs, the drug trade, borders - or lack of them now that NAFTA is in full force, money and life. It isn't simple and doesn’t insult us with the idiotic "Just Say No" of former US administrations. It is hard and cold. The questions are serious, and there are no easy answers.
    I predict it might possibly win as best film at these year's Oscars as well. If you haven't seen it already, go see Traffic.

 
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