I was young.
I was in the back seat of a friend's car, and we had just driven about thirty or forty minutes from our "safe" little neighborhood, to an area of Miami which was infamous for trouble.
My friend pulls up to a dilapidated old building and immediately an intimidating black guy comes right up to his window, a "large" sized Kentucky Fried Chicken cup in his hand. This was a long time ago, before the word "Fried" in their name would scare away today's more health conscious patrons.
My friend grunts something once, and sticks his arm out the window holding a bill, a $10 or a $20.
The dealer sticks his long fingers into the cup and pulls out a little bag. All the while my head is spinning, my heart is racing, and somehow, I'm sure I'm gonna die.
But we made it out alive. No threats. No cops…nothing but a knowledge that I would never have anything to do with drugs again.
I can't say I enjoyed Traffic.
Despite a few "Hollywood" touches, this movie about the drug trade just seemed too real.
It disturbed me.
But even if I didn't enjoy it, I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed.
Director Steven Soderbergh did an outstanding job filming the movie himself, although I don't know why he used an assumed name in the "photographed by" credits. It was because of Soderbergh that I finally went to see this movie…he had been getting so much praise that I had to see what I was missing.
After all that praise, and after having seen Out of Sight and Erin Brockovich, I knew that despite an unappealing concept, Traffic had to be good.
It was. Very good actually.
And Soderbergh isn't the only reason…
Traffic has an amazing cast.
Benecio Del Toro, speaking mostly Spanish in his role as an earnest Mexican detective, has already won a Golden Globe for Traffic. He was great in what seemed like an homage to the strong and silent hero of movies past.
Michael Douglas, who I'm usually not a big fan of, was great. This is probably the best acting I've ever seen him do. Playing his daughter was a newcomer I've never heard of, Erica Christensen. She was just awesome. Her's was not an easy role, especially for a young actress, but she was perfect.
Also in Traffic, as an undercover cop, is Don Cheadle. Don Cheadle is the best. He can be funny, dramatic, intimidating…whatever. He can play anything and be great, and in Traffic that holds true. Playing his partner is Luis Guzman, who along with Cheadle was also in Out of Sight. Guzman is a really great character actor, and even if he never plays the leading man, he usually manages to steal a few scenes from his costars.
There are a lot more people in Traffic, all of which did great jobs.
With amazing performances and outstanding direction, Traffic is definitely worth seeing.