Academy Awards 2000 -
Best Adapted Screenplay: Stephen Gaghan
Academy Awards 2000 -
Best Director: Steven Soderbergh
Academy Awards 2000 -
Best Supporting Actor: Benicio Del Toro
New York Times - 12/27/2000
"Steven Soderbergh's great, despairing squall of a film [infuses] epic cinematic form with jittery new rhythms and a fresh, acid-washed palette....The performances, by an ensemble from which not a false note issues, have the clarity and force of pithy instrumental solos insistently piercing through a dense cacaphony..."
USA Today - 12/27/2000
"...[A] consistently credible drama..." -- 3 out of 4 stars
Entertainment Weekly - 12/22/2000 Ranked #3 in Entertainment Weekly's "Owen Gleiberman's BEST MOVIES OF 2000"
Total Film - 02/01/2001
"...Multi-layered plotting and plenty of pleasing technical flourishes....Douglas is superb..." -- 4 out of 5 stars
Sight and Sound - 02/01/2001
"...Its vigorous, unjaded rush of imagery and story makes for an exciting visual experience..."
Box Office - 02/01/2001
"...Soderbergh deftly weaves together four stories depicting the causes and effects of the illegal drug trade..."
Premiere - 02/01/2001
"...The whole thing feels remarkably fresh, vibrant and new....The movie is adult, intelligent, sweeping yet intimate, nail-bitingly suspenseful, buoyed by an impeccable, uniformly powerhouse cast, and it provides a real perspective on a real issue..."
Hollywood Reporter - 12/12/2000
"...A mosaic of heightened reality....A picture fascinating in its complexit....The technical contributions are adroit and stylish..."
Los Angeles Times - 12/27/2001
"...Complex and ambitious....Yet another indication of how accomplished a filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has become..."
Steven Soderbergh followed up his critical and commercial smash ERIN BROCKOVICH with this wildly exhilarating exploration of the complex, multilayered international drug problem. The film tells three seemingly disparate stories that loosely intersect and overlap, unfurling at a frantic, relentless pace. In the first, a well-intentioned Mexican police officer, Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro), comes face-to-face with the hypocrisy and hopelessness of his situation after he learns that his superior, General Salazar (Tomas Milian), isn't the law-abiding officer he claims to be. In the second, Robert Wakefield (Michael Douglas), a conservative Supreme Court judge from Ohio, takes a position as the president's new drug czar. What he doesn't realize is that his teenage daughter, Caroline (Erika Christensen), is falling prey to the dangerous narcotics that he has been hired to eradicate. In the third section, federal agents Montel Gordon (Don Cheadle) and Ray Castro (Luis Guzmán) are baby-sitting Eduardo Ruiz (Miguel Ferrer), a drug smuggler who is about to testify against the wealthy Carlos Ayala (Steven Bauer). When Ayala's pregnant wife, Helena (Catherine Zeta-Jones), learns of her husband's illegal activities, she takes her family's future into her own hands. Soderbergh's bold decision to photograph the film using three strikingly different visual schemes adds even greater punch to TRAFFIC, which stands firmly as one of 2000's most stirring motion picture events.
Theatrical release: December 27, 2000 (NY/LA) January 5, 2001 (Wide Release)
Shot on location in San Diego and Los Angeles, California; Nogales and Las Cruces, Mexico; El Paso, Texas; Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; and Washington, DC.
There were 115 specific shooting locations in the film and 135 speaking roles.
Peter Andrews is a pseudonym for director Steven Soderbergh as a cinematographer, since the Writers Guild wouldn't give him permission to use the credit "directed and photographed by Steven Soderbergh." The alias is taken from his father, Peter Andrew Soderbergh.
Each of the three major locales in TRAFFIC has a specific look. Soderbergh told Gavin Smith of Film Comment (1/2001), "In San Diego the idea was to contrast the idyllic visual scheme with the rotten underpinnings of Helena and Carl's story. So for those scenes we were flashing the negative ten percent, which reduces the contrast and makes the highlights blossom, and using diffusion filters to give it a very desaturated, bright, soft look. And then on the East Coast we wanted a little bit more of a spare feeling, so we were shooting tungsten-balanced film in daylight without doing any color correction, which gives you a very cold, monochromatic look. Mexico was shot using extreme overexposure and printing down, adjusting the shutter angle to 45 degrees to give it a very strobey look, and using 'tobacco' filters, which give you a very yellowish-brown feel. We then printed those scenes on Ektachrome, which required a number of additional printing steps, so that it would be seven generations down from the original negative. Originally, we were going to do the whole film that way."
Many nonprofessional actors were in the cast, and many of their scenes were improvised.
TRAFFIC was inspired by the English miniseries TRAFFIK (1989), which was produced for Channel 4 Films.
Among the cameos in the film are appearances by Albert Finney, Salma Hayek, Benjamin Bratt, and James Brolin. Finney also starred in Soderbergh's ERIN BROCKOVICH.
Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and various U.S. senators such as Charles Grassley, Orrin Hatch, and Barbara Boxer appear in the film as themselves.
Don Cheadle and Luis Guzmán both previously appeared in Soderbergh's OUT OF SIGHT and P.T. Anderson's BOOGIE NIGHTS. Guzmán also starred in Soderbergh's THE LIMEY.
Topher Grace, star of the Fox television series THAT '70S SHOW, makes his first feature-film appearance in TRAFFIC.
Soderbergh rarely had to film a scene more than three times.
Lactose powder was used in the shooting to look like cocaine.
Soderbergh watched such genre films as THE FRENCH CONNECTION to prepare for TRAFFIC.
Soderbergh compared Zeta-Jones to Ava Gardner, telling Reuters, "[Catherine] can be glamorous when she wants to, and she can be a human, life-sized character and still be compelling."