Combustible Celluloid
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With: Benicio Del Toro, Tomas Milian, Michael Douglas, Luis Guzman, Don Cheadle, Miguel Ferrer, Erika Christensen, Topher Grace, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Albert Finney, James Brolin, Steven Bauer, Benjamin Bratt
Written by: Stephen Gaghan, based on the miniseries by Simon Moore
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive drug content, strong language, violence and some sexuality
Running Time: 147
Date: 12/27/2000

Traffic (2000)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Drug Rats

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Most critics have gone mad for this film, an overrated, overlong, muddled stand on the drug war in America. Adapted from a six-hour British mini-series called Traffik, Steven Soderbergh's new film smushes those six hours down to two and a quarter, and most of the characters get lost in the mix. Only superior acting by Don Cheadle, Luis Guzman, and Benicio del Toro bring their characters out of the mire. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones (who never appear onscreen together, by the way) don't fare so well.

It's not that the acting is bad; it's just that the writing isn't there. The characters arcs are sudden and illogical. Nonetheless, Soderbergh, who balanced and smoothed out the potentially preachy Erin Brockovich earlier this year, manages to create a few harrowing moments of stunning power, making Traffic at least worth seeing.

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