what amazes in “traffic”: a tracking shot from below a landing helicopter. yellowish images of (mainly) heat in tijuana with sharp outlines in smothered movements. javier rodriguez rodriguez, a low-level mexican police officer who gradually gets involved in the war against drugs at a much higher level and who, as a character, shows the maximum degree of integrity-torn-apart-from-both-inside-and-outside imaginable within this particular film format. helena ayala, wife of a rich businessman who is confronted with the sudden discovery of his involvement in drug traffic and turns out to, well, live up to the situation.
what disturbs about “traffic”: that attempts at narrative complexity are counteracted by consistently misplaced and clumsy slapstick humour (not to say these scenes are not funny, but they are simply misplaced in the narrative flow), by dialogues and acting, both of which draw a film that could be much more towards (a shallow form of) action drama.
what annoys about “traffic”: it is a film made in hollywood. where the good guys do their job heroically against all odds. where their heroism as an individual persists precisely because the obstacles are insurmountable. where insurmountable obstacles are reduced to opportunities for showing more of that good old heroism. where everyone gets a chance to star in a tear-jerking feel-good scene at the end. except for the anonymous masses who happen to be (non-white) drug addicts from lower classes or who are engaged in drug trafficking without being ruthless killers or cynical cartel bosses. where the possibility that drugs might be taken by your own family members is the only moral grain of salt in the infamous “war on drugs”. where family values are an argument.