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"TRAFFIC"
(2000) (Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Extreme Mild Extreme Moderate Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Moderate None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Mild Moderate Heavy Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Various people in both the U.S. and Mexico attempt to deal with the repercussions that drugs, and the war on them, have on their lives.
PLOT:
Javier Rodriguez (BENICIO DEL TORO) and his partner Manolo Sanchez (JACOB VARGAS) are Tijuana State cops who find themselves tempted and/or coerced within a police department where drugs, drug trafficking and related money have corrupted others. They eventually find themselves somewhat reluctantly working for General Arturo Salazar (TOMAS MILIAN), Mexico's apparent number one drug fighter who wants them to shut down the Tijuana drug cartel, first by capturing assassin Francisco Flores (CLIFTON COLLINS JR.).

Robert Wakefield (MICHAEL DOUGLAS) is a conservative Ohio State Supreme Court Judge who's just been appointed by the President as the nation's new drug czar. While he has his hands full collecting information about the post, the state of the war on drugs and establishing collaborative efforts with Mexico to stem the drug trade, he and his wife, Barbara (AMY IRVING), must contend with their 16-year-old daughter, Caroline (ERIKA CHRISTENSEN). Although she's smart and a scholastic overachiever, she's also a drug addict and enjoys getting high with her friends including Bowman (COREY SPEARS), Vanessa (MAJANDRA DELFINO) and boyfriend Seth Abrahms (TOPHER GRACE).

Montel Gordon (DON CHEADLE) and Ray Castro (LUIZ GUZMAN) are undercover DEA agents hoping to crack an infamous drug cartel led by Juan Obregon (BENJAMIN BRATT). Their busting of middle-rung drug trafficker, Eduardo Ruiz (MIGUEL FERRER), leads to the arrest of Carlos Ayala (STEVEN BAUER) who turns out to be a drug baron and not the upstanding business and family man he appears to be.

That all comes as a shock to his pregnant wife, Helena (CATHERINE ZETA-JONES), who consults with attorney Arnie Metzger (DENNIS QUAID) while trying to figure out how to deal with such unexpected revelations as well as threats from the cartel and being trailed by the DEA. As the presence of drugs and the war on them rages on, those various people attempt to confront the related issues that directly affect them.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Those who are fans of someone in the cast or of director Steven Soderbergh might, but this otherwise doesn't look like a huge draw outside of the older teenage group.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For pervasive drug content, strong language, violence and some sexuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MICHAEL DOUGLAS plays the newly appointed drug czar who must not only contend with the duties of his job, but also the fact that his daughter is a drug addict. He uses some strong profanity and drinks.
  • ERIKA CHRISTENSEN plays his daughter, a bright and overachieving sixteen-year-old who's also a drug user who tries to keep her habit secret from her father and is disrespectful to him. She also uses strong profanity and has sex with a dealer to get more drugs.
  • AMY IRVING plays her mother who admits to trying every drug when she was in college and wants to be more lenient with her than does Robert. She also admits to knowing about the drug problem for six months.
  • TOPHER GRACE plays Caroline's boyfriend who does drugs with her and also uses strong profanity.
  • DON CHEADLE plays an undercover DEA agent who busts various suspects, trails Helena and uses strong profanity.
  • LUIZ GUZMAN plays his DEA partner who also uses strong profanity.
  • BENICIO DEL TORO plays a somewhat corrupt Mexican cop who's assigned to bust a drug cartel and finds himself tangled in an even more corrupt system. He smokes a few times and uses some strong profanity.
  • JACOB VARGAS plays his partner.
  • TOMAS MILIAN plays a corrupt military official who enlists both of them in trying to shut down a drug cartel. He uses some strong profanity.
  • CATHERINE ZETA-JONES plays a pampered wife who's surprised to learn that her husband is a drug dealer. She briefly uses strong profanity and ends up becoming involved in the drug business and the ordering of someone's death, but apparently only to save her son after a threat is made against him for them owing millions of dollars to others.
  • STEVEN BAUER plays her husband who turns out to be a major drug figure.
  • DENNIS QUAID plays an attorney friend/acquaintance of theirs who helps Helena after Carlos is busted.
  • CLIFTON COLLINS JR. plays an apparently gay assassin and gunrunner for a drug cartel.
  • BENJAMIN BRATT plays a high-powered drug lord.
  • MIGUEL FERRER plays a middle-rung drug dealer who wants immunity for testifying against those above him and after trying to kill Montel. He also uses strong profanity.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity is listed as extreme due to at least 68 uses of the "f" word, while plenty of other expletives and colorful phrases are used throughout the film. Various instances of sexually related dialogue are also present, as is one somewhat graphic sexual encounter between a 16-year-old girl and her drug dealer. Another such encounter is suggested while some making out also occurs and a Mexican cop briefly poses as a gay man in a gay bar to seize an assassin.

    Being a film about drugs and drug use, various characters do and/or deal drugs, including a group of teenagers who do bong hits, and snort and freebase cocaine and are consequently high/stoned. Other characters drink and/or smoke. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while some tense family moments arise regarding a teen's drug use and other drug related material.

    Violence is listed as extreme due to several people being killed (via gunfire, an explosion and a poisoning) with other non-lethal violence and threatening behavior occurring. Some of those scenes have mildly bloody results and may be - along with other moments - tense or unsettling to some viewers.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your house who wishes to see it, we suggest that you more closely examine our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Throughout the movie there's all sorts of talk about drugs and drug use that may not be listed below.
  • Javier and Manolo bust two drug dealers/runners and we see a package of wrapped drugs.
  • Wakefield pours drinks for himself and another man who finds his strong to the taste.
  • Wakefield has wine by himself.
  • We see Caroline and her friends (Seth, Vanessa and Bowman) doing drugs including snorting cocaine and doing bong hits. Seth then asks Caroline to try something new, which turns out to be free-basing (cocaine) and we see Caroline high from doing that.
  • Helena and her friends talk about drinking wine while pregnant and Helena (who's pregnant) says that her doctor said it was fine to have a glass of wine after her amnio, but then adds that she had two.
  • People have drinks at a reception, including Wakefield (who has several).
  • The Wakefields have wine with dinner.
  • People have drinks in a bar.
  • Caroline and her friends drink and do more drugs (including bong hits and snorting cocaine) and one comments that another is high. Moments later, one of the young men begins to convulse from a bad reaction or overdose of the drugs.
  • Caroline's mother states that she experimented with most every drug while in college.
  • Caroline secretly freebases more cocaine in her bathroom at home.
  • A general tries to get a captured assassin drunk with wine so that he'll more freely talk (and the assassin guzzles down a glass).
  • Caroline and her friend buy more drugs and we then see them using them in a motel room (where she's high). He then tells her that he wants to have sex and then do a hit (of drugs) when they're both "coming."
  • Wakefield's wife comments about him being the one who needs three Scotchs to be able to walk in and say hello. He replies that he has one before dinner to take the edge off.
  • Wakefield returns home and hears his daughter in her bathroom (where she's doing more drugs). He eventually gets the door open, confronts her while she's high, and then finds the drugs she tried to hide.
  • Caroline exchanges sex for drugs with a drug dealer and he then injects what's presumably some heroin into her foot.
  • A man has a beer and then tries some specialized cocaine that Helena brings him.
  • Wakefield finds Caroline passed out (presumably from drugs).
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see several small, bloody bullet holes in a man's shirt after he's been shot.
  • Some blood squirts out of a man's shoe when he's shot there.
  • We see that a tortured assassin has some bloody marks/bruises on his body and face.
  • A man has some blood on his head.
  • We see a man who has some bloody cuts on his face.
  • A sniper shoots a man and we see some blood come out of the victim.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Javier and his partner are apparently somewhat corrupt Mexican cops.
  • A man makes a joke about the reason hurricanes are named after women, stating that when they arrive, they're wet and wild, but when they leave, they take your house and car.
  • Those in the drug trade business obviously have both types of attitudes.
  • Eduardo is a drug dealer and shoots Montel when he realizes he's a DEA agent. He also acts belligerently toward Montel and Ray throughout the film.
  • Scared and not sure what to do, Caroline and her friends literally drop off their convulsing friend (who's overdosed) on a hospital sidewalk and attempt to drive away.
  • Caroline lies to her parents about using drugs and is disrespectful to her father.
  • Some may see Caroline's mother as having both types of attitudes about being lenient toward her daughter's involvement in drugs (and we learn that she knew about the drug use for six months but didn't tell her husband).
  • A man picks up Helena's son at a park and threatens to kill him if she doesn't pay back the money that her husband owes.
  • A military man turns out to be working for one of the drug cartels (despite outwardly appearing to be against drugs).
  • Although she does so to save her husband and child, Helena gets involved in both the drug trade and the ordering of someone's death.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense or unsettling to some viewers.
  • Montel and Ray slowly make their way through a "fun zone" establishment with their guns drawn, looking for Eduardo who just tried to kill Montel.
  • One of Caroline's friends begins to convulse from an overdose or a bad reaction to the drugs he's taken.
  • A man picks up Helena's son at a park and threatens to kill him if she doesn't pay back the money that her husband owes.
  • After a bomb has been planted under a car, we watch as several men approach it while a sniper prepares to shoot someone and a man rushes toward the men intent on killing one of them.
  • Several men take other men out into the desert where they're seemingly set on killing them (and even have the other men digging their own graves). After holding their guns to the backs of these men's heads, they do kill one of them.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Machine guns/Handguns/Rifles: Worn, carried and/or used by various people to threaten, wound or kill others. See "Violence" for details.
  • Bomb: Used to blow up a car and kill someone.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases (some occurring in English subtitles): "What the f*ck is that?" "Shut the f*ck up," "You're/he's f*cked," "F*cking crazy," "I don't know what the f*ck I'm doing," "That's f*cking bullsh*t," "F*ckload," "F*ck you," "I don't give a f*ck," "Why don't you just back the f*ck up," "Get the f*ck out," "Who/where the f*ck do you think you are?" "F*ck off," "No sh*t," "Piece of sh*t," "That's good sh*t," "Don't do that sh*t again," "Jacking off," "Jerk off," "Coming" and "Laid" (the last four are used sexually), "Screwed" (nonsexual), "What the hell is that?" "Big ass," "What the hell are you doing here?" "Bitch," "Bad ass," "Shut up" and "Bastards."
  • It's possible that some kids could be inspired to use/try drugs after seeing some teenage characters here doing so, but the film is definitely more anti than pro drugs.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • Some of the following occur in English subtitles: At least 68 "f" words (3 used with "mother"), 20 "s" words, 8 asses (2 used with "hole"), 6 hells, 1 damn, 3 uses of "Oh my God," 2 each of "G-damn" and "Jesus" and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "God," "My God," "Oh God" and "Oh Jesus" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A man makes a joke about why hurricanes are named after women, stating that when they arrive, they're wet and wild, but when they leave, they take your house and car.
  • Ray starts to tell a joke about a tattooed penis with the words yes or no written on it, but is interrupted before he can finish it.
  • Seth makes out with Caroline after she gets high from free-basing drugs.
  • In a gay bar attempting to seize Francisco (for professional and not sexual reasons), Javier pulls out a pack of cigarettes that has a wrapped condom on it (after Francisco checks out his butt).
  • Seth makes a comment about another friend "jacking off" with Caroline in mind rather than the girl he's supposed to be in love with. That guy then states that, "When I jerk off, I don't just think of Caroline. I think of you and Caroline."
  • We see a nude man bound and tied to a chair during a lull in him being tortured. Although we see bits of his pubic hair and the side of his bare butt, we don't see anything else due to the positioning of his body and the camera.
  • Caroline and Seth make out after doing more drugs. He then tells her that he wants to have sex and then do a hit (of drugs) when they're both "coming." They then start to take other their clothes, but the scene ends before we see any nudity or anything else.
  • Montel reminisces about when he "got laid" at a beach where he lost his virginity as a sophomore in high school. Ray then jokingly asks him if the beach treated him good (as if Montel had sex with the beach).
  • We see Helena in her nightgown and see some cleavage.
  • We see Caroline having sex with a drug dealer in exchange for drugs. As such, we hear some sexual sounds and see her point of view, him on top of her, some movement and the sight of his bare butt as he gets up to answer the door (when he's interrupted to sell more drugs to someone else). After he injects some heroin into her foot (and she's high), we see him on top of her again, kissing her (a head and shoulders shot).
  • Wakefield finds Caroline passed out and we presume that she was in this room to have sex with a man who just left.
  • SMOKING
  • Javier smokes several times, while Ray, Francisco, Vanessa and various other characters all smoke at least one time.
  • Montel and Ray talk about using nicotine patches in attempts to quit smoking.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that Javier's parents died in 1993.
  • The Wakefields get into a heated argument about their daughter's drug use and then do so again in a later scene.
  • Helena is upset with her husband after learning that he's a drug dealer.
  • A woman briefly grieves over her husband's death.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Drugs, drug use and how to deal with that problem (including education, rehabilitation and/or legal repercussions).
  • Caroline exchanging sex for drugs and peer pressure to try and continue using drugs.
  • Helena's decision to get into the drug business to save her husband and son.
  • Wakefield's decision at the end of the film regarding his daughter and his new position.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Javier and Manolo aim their guns at some men they believe to be drug dealers/runners. Moments later, various military men hold their guns on those two cops.
  • Realizing Montel's a DEA agent, Eduardo shoots him in the chest (but Montel is wearing a bulletproof vest). Ray then shoots (and apparently kills) a man who rushes in. A gun battle then breaks out with various people aiming or firing handguns and machine guns at each other that riddle cars and hit at least one person.
  • Montel shoots Eduardo in the foot.
  • We see a man bound and tied to a chair during a lull in him being tortured for information (we see various tools of torture on a nearby table). The torturer then sprays something into that man's face, causing him to writhe and scream in pain. We later see him and he has various cuts and bruises on his face and body.
  • A man has some blood on his head (suggesting that he was hit there while being arrested).
  • A man is pushed out of a truck.
  • Javier pushes Manolo backwards.
  • A sniper shoots a man several times.
  • A car bomb explodes, destroying the car and killing the man inside it.
  • A man executes another man via a gunshot.
  • While looking for his daughter, Wakefield grabs Seth and slams him back against a door.
  • A drug dealer holds his gun on Wakefield and then pushes him backwards.
  • Wakefield kicks open a door.
  • A person poisons another person (killing them).
  • We see some people who've either been killed or knocked out.
  • It's implied that several men with guns kill another man.
  • Montel pushes and struggles with several men.



  • Reviewed December 4, 2000 / Posted January 5, 2001

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