A Drug World Portrayed In Traffic

  • Category: Music & Movies
  • Words: 1621
  • Grade: 100
The movie Traffic directed by Soderbergh deals with the unseen world of drugs of our latest times. The scope of the movie is to reveal the alterations provoked by the dealership of drugs to people's character and ideals. The movie exposes some trafficants motivations as well as the victims' hopes and wishes as they develop in people, in order to portray the " drug world" as it is, and not as a list of casualties and events. "The jumble between action movie and personal drama, Traffic uncovers the shocking reality of the ongoing drug war in Mexico and the US," mentions in their review, Time magazine. It straightforwardly shows the corruption and brutality of drug trafficking. But it is also about personal relationships, about love, trust, adolescent confusion and dishonesty.
The film revolves around three dissimilar stories. One story centers in the Tijuana State policeman Javier Rodriguez, played by Benicio Del Torro and his partner, Manolo, caught in a web of political bribery centered in the Mexican drug traffic. The second story centers on Robert Wakefield, played by Michael Douglas, the U.S. President's newly appointed drug czar whose daughter Caroline, an A+ student, develops a drug problem that turns from occasional use to severe addiction. Finally, the third story revolves around the actual spreader of drugs, Carlos, and the law enforcers strong-minded to put them out of business.
The director's skillful directing and cinematography work give each section of the film a unique look and feel. The Mexican landscape is overexposed and enriched with sepia tones. The home of Douglas and the government agencies are a cool-blue color in sharp contrast. San Diego has a warm glow to its environment and its population.
From the first scenes Traffic becomes a tense movie. Delicate nerve, alternating between extreme long shots of a seared-white desertscape and shots of men in trucks are almost unreadily close. Titled " Mexico, 20 miles southeast of Tijuana," this restless opening finally pauses to give up a story. Two men wait in their car, then stop and seize a truck loaded with drugs. Proud of their work, Javier and his partner Manolo, head off down the long dusty road back to town. But within seconds, they're turning the truck over to the local Mr. Big Boss. General Arturo Salazar, who comes equipped with a pack of armed and rude soldiers. As it turns out, though Javier and Manolo are themselves cops, they have precious little influence when it comes to drug traffic.
In the desert, everything and everyone is about the drugs, and no one makes anything more than the dutiful attempts necessary for planning to deny this. Lives are built, lived and lost for drug money, and at the end of the day you realize that it's that irresistible pull that seems to make everything you try pointless. The dust swirls, the sun on the sand is blinding, and you feel drained and pessimistic just watching. Javier and Manolo see where they stand in the scheme of things, but they persist, imagining that they're always just a step away from bringing down the big cheese or maybe just the dealer on the corner.
Traffic also makes a point of challenging many of the worn out clichés of the cop and gangster movie. When Mexican police officer Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez is kidnapped by a drug cartel, the action is discreet. There is no dramatic escape as he is handcuffed to a car, driven indifferently across the border, forced to dig his own grave and resign to his own death. Therefore, in nearly every scene of the movie where Del Torro plays, the character he portrays, Rodriguez, has to lie. And even a small mission of mercy to his partner's widow only serves to draw attention to his own isolation. His and his partner's moral equivalent, subtracting the lies, north of the border are DEA agents Montel and Ray, introduced undercover. When they are set up to the viewers, they are setting up a deal with one of the basemen, Eduardo Ruiz. The characters seem to work in different patterns. When he stalls, Ray tells bad jokes, trying to cut tension, but Montel is usually out of patience in that first scene. Suddenly the "blurts out" is trashed by the arrival of the local law. Here, the film shows the consequences of non-coordination and territorial shadowy fluctuation. Montel and Ray do succeed in arresting Ruiz, however, this means that they have a route to their next-up target, a dealer who lives the upscale life in La Jolla, and that person is Carlos. Helena, his wife, anchors this part of the movie. Unaware of her husband's illicit business, she enlists the aid of her husband attorney Ernie, played by Dennis Quaid, to get him out of jail, even if it means taking over the business. Helena is a single mother pregnant with a second child alone and absolutely horrified that her wealthy life has been financed by such wicked means. After discovering, after trying to understand, that she can't turn to her husband's lawyer played by Denis Quaid, it's not too long before Helena starts making some serious decisions, which include arranging a deal on killing the primary witness against her husband, who happens to be Ruiz. She shows dedication to her family, strength and very strong desire of bringing home her husband. The red of her lips, the luxuriance of the plants, the beautiful house, you realize this is somewhere very different from the Mexican desert. And yet it's all so pretty you know something has to go wrong somewhere, and it does. Ruiz will be killed finally and Helena's husband is released back home. You learn, along with her, that everything about that life is hardly less dominated by drugs than in the desert. Except that across the border it's forbidden to acknowledge this. Being connected with drugs brings with it social stigma and rejection, at best, and the full power of the law, at worst. Increment by increment this way the director tries to tell us that this is the only way to make a indentation, or rather to imagine that you're making one.
"Traffic is often complicated and disturbing, linking three split storylines, and uncooked surveillance-camera elegance, a large popular cast, and two languages" as mentioned in the review from Eugene Weekly Views. The movie combines real life references, location shooting, and non-actor cameos with scenes that are stylized, overtly symbolic, and sometimes awkwardly educational. In this way, Traffic follows the map of the troubled combat zone of fiction and reality calling to mind the reality with its images, and references while at the same time exposing what it assembles as the result of the technically settled and the production of fiction in the cinematographically process. At every opportunity Soderbergh puts human weakness on display as the routine rival that Michael Douglas's character must also battle. Robert Wakefield keeps his family at a safe emotional distance when he treats his feel for career climbing and nightly Scotch at conferences where is to be a very important figure.
Having that said, we move to Caroline who is less a developed character than a tool to extend her father's education. It is useful to show that because this power player doesn't need to know much about street crime and drug trade, he will not, unless, of course, he will be obligated to. But the fact that forcing takes the form of Caroline's drug addiction is not a little "sweet". It is bad enough to see her looking pale and hollow-eyed under the influence, but it becomes annoying when she solicits the company of men in order to feed her unhealthy addiction. The scenes portraying that are revealing an absolute unpleasantness of the girl's situation. The significance of the scenes bring up a tremendous meaning to the movie, that is when Caroline's father, Robert Wakefield, played by Michael Douglas, shows up and then collapses at the sight of his stung out baby girl.
Traffic seems to entail that truth is only accurate when its standard fiction is accentuated. An attempt to cover this fiction would only damage Traffic's basic task of exploring an actual social situation instead of providing yet other mind-freezing hit off the Hollywood break pipe. Only through an obviously stylized, knowingly opinionated portrait of the drug war we can see the movie in its vision and make a claim to inform rather than take advantage of the movie's subject.
The primary function of art is, of course, to move us, not instruct us. But Salon.com Arts & Entertainment states that "Traffic shows us what a mighty influence art can be when it changes the way we see the world". The film does not offer a solution for ending the war on drugs, but it does offer insight into the business. Traffic functions as a great movie to be discussed because it took the hugely complex mess that is the war on drugs, and chose key elements within it on which to focus. It had a number of messages, but didn't club over the head with them. It had unlikely heroes, and unlikely bad characters, who eventually came across as believable and multi-dimensional, the way real people are.

Websites as reached with http://www.search.com/:

TIME.com: Crouching Traffic, Hidden Winner: http://www.time.com/time/sampler/article/0,8599,103642,00.html
Eugene Weekly Views -- Movies, Clips and Videos: http://www.eugeneweekly.com/01_11_01/movies.html#movie1
Salon.com Arts & Entertainment | Hollywood kicks the habit: http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/2000/12/20/traffic_essay/
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