Critics Consensus

Soderbergh successfully pulls off the highly ambitious Traffic, a movie with three different stories and a very large cast. The issues of ethics are gray rather than black-and-white, with no clear-cut good guys. Terrific acting all around.



Reviews Counted: 158

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 190,305


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.6/5

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Movie Info

A patchwork of stories that evokes the high-stakes, high-risk world of the drug trade, as seen through a series of inter-related stories, some are highly personal, some are filled with intrigue and danger. A Mexican policeman finds himself caught in a web of corruption; A pair of undercover DEA agents work in the sordid and dangerous world of San Diego dealers; a wealthy drug baron living in upscale, suburban America is arrested and learns how quickly his unknowing and pampered wife takes over his business; and the U.S. President's new anti-drug czar, an Ohio State Supreme Court Justice, must deal with his increasingly drug-addicted teenage daughter.

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Amy Irving
as Barbara
Albert Finney
as Chief of Staff
Steven Bauer
as Carlos Ayala
Jacob Vargas
as Manolo Sanchez
Tomás Milian
as General Arturo Salazar
Joel Torres
as Porfilio Madrigal
D.W. Moffett
as Jeff Sheridan
James Brolin
as General Ralph Landry
Jsu Garcia
as Pablo Obregon
Salma Hayek
as Madrigal's Mistress (uncredited)
Corey Spears
as F.-Up Bowman
Alec Roberts
as David Ayala
Bill Weld
as Himself
Don Nickles
as Himself
Harry Reed
as Himself
Clifton Collins Jr.
as Francisco Flores
Orrin Hatch
as Himself
James Pickens Jr.
as Prosecutor Ben Williams
Rudy M. Camacho
as Customs Official
Yul Vázquez
as Tigrillo/Obregon Assassin
Jack Conley
as Agent Hughes
Eddie Velez
as Agent Johnson
Craig N. Chretien
as Director of EPIC
John Brown
as Assistant Director of EPIC
Mike Siegel
as DEA Representative
Kimber Fritz
as Rehab Counselor
Daniella Kuhn
as Tourist Woman
Brandon Keener
as Tourist Man
George Steven Blumenthal
as Partygoer No. 1
Jewelle Bickford
as Partygoer No. 2
Dave Hager
as Partygoer No. 3
Tucker Smallwood
as Partygoer No. 4
Victor Quintero
as Salazar Soldier
Toby Holguin
as Salazar Soldier
Ramiro Gonzalez III
as Salazar Soldier
Viola Davis
as Social Worker
Elaine Kagan
as Judge Reed
John Slattery
as ADA Dan Collier
Jim Ortega
as Arrested Man in Apartment
Greg Boniface
as Tackled Man No. 1
Tom Rosales
as Tackled Man No. 2
Harsh Nayyar
as Witness No. 1
Mary Pat Gleason
as Witness No. 2
Vincent Ward
as Man on Street
Gregory Estevane
as Polygraph Adminsitrator
Alex Procopio
as Polygraph Assistant
Rita Gomez
as Mrs. Castro
Jay Fernando Krymis
as Waiter No. 1
Mike Malone
as Waiter No. 2
Kymberly S. Newberry
as Press Secretary
Carroll Schumacher
as Ayala Security
Michael Showers
as Meeting Leader
Rena Sofer
as Helena's Friend
Stacey Travis
as Helena's Friend
Jennifer Barker
as Helena's Friend
Dean Faulkner
as Helena's Friend
Andrew Chavez
as Desert Truck Driver
Michael Saucedo
as Desert Truck Driver
José Yenque
as Salazar Soldier/Torturer
Emilio Rivera
as Salazar Soldier No. 2
Michael O'Neill
as Lawyer Rodman
Lorene Hetherington
as State Capitol Reporter No. 1
Eric Collins
as State Capitol Reporter No. 2
Beau Holden
as DEA Agent CalTrans
Peter T. Stader
as DEA Agent CalTrans
James Lew
as DEA Agent CalTrans
Jeremy Fitzgerald
as DEA Agent CalTrans
Russell Solberg
as DEA Agent CalTrans
Don Snell
as DEA Agent, Trailer
Enrique Murciano Jr.
as DEA Agent, Trailer
Gary Carlos Cervantes
as DEA Agent, Trailer
Carl Ciarfalio
as Ruiz's Assistant
Steve Lambert
as Van Driver
Gilbert Rosales
as Van Passenger
Rick Avery
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
Mario Roberts
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
Eileen Weisinger
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
Ken Johnston
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
Mike Watson
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
Kurt D. Lott
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
Lincoln Simonds
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
Steve Tomaski
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
Buck McDancer
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
John Callery
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
Ousaun Elam
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
Brian Avery
as DEA Agent, Public Storage
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News & Interviews for Traffic

Critic Reviews for Traffic

All Critics (158) | Top Critics (40)

  • I don't see this slightly better-than-average drug thriller, with slightly better-than-average direction by Steven Soderbergh, as anything more than a routine rubber-stamping of genre reflexes.

    May 18, 2008 | Full Review…
  • The promise of Sex, Lies, and Videotape has been fulfilled.

    Apr 27, 2007 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Top Critic
  • It's wise about different kinds of addiction and concepts of family, about the folly, futility and hypocrisy of anti-drug 'wars', and about the awful human cost of it all. And it grips like a vice from start to end.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Director Steven Soderbergh is riding one of the hottest streaks in the movie world.

    Apr 25, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Soderbergh's jazzed stylistics can be smartly entertaining. Without them, an uneven movie like Traffic might seem more of a mélange than it already is.

    Sep 26, 2002
  • A sprawling, artistic, superbly acted, informative, and mainstream Hollywood movie.

    Apr 16, 2001 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Ben Falk
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Traffic


An always engaging and expertly-edited multi-character drama that offers a grim portrait of the war on drugs and understands that there are no easy solutions for this complex problem. But Soderbergh also exaggerates in his blatantly unsubtle cinematography.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Excellent acting and a well-crafted script make Traffic a worthwhile watch, even if in retrospect the film's early-2000s-feel and film editing makes it feel dated.

Matthew Samuel Mirliani
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer


A dark, unsettling, informative story interweaving three different casts of characters on how the drug trade effects all hierarchies and cultures. Steven Soderbergh has constructed a near-masterpiece of a film and one of the best films about drugs ever. The way he connects all three stories, and details his characters and gives each one many dimensions is simply stunning. The color schemes he uses for each story is definitely different but effective, and the way he concludes each one is impressive. There are some parts that feel a little Hollywoodized, but asides from these brief instances, this is a near-flawless film that deserves to be seen by anyone interested in the drug trade and just how deadly it is in all of society.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Traffic is one of those films that transcends the process and the art of filmmaking and becomes something else entirely. It defines experimental filmmaking at its finest and excels at everything in every way possible. Starring an amalgam of talent from Benicio Del Toro, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas, Miguel Ferrer, Luis Guzman, Don Cheadle and Dennis Quaid, with even small bit parts by Albert Finney, Benjamin Bratt, Topher Grace, Salma Hayek and James Brolin. Absolutely unbelievable, and they all give top notch performances. Steven Soderbergh's choice to film the three stories in three different ways using different lenses, filters, film stocks and photochemical procresses gives the film its identity as a living, breathing thing and not just another film. One of my favorite filmmakers working today, Steven Soderbergh always surprises me and keeps me interested in his work, which makes him incredibly appealing to filmmakers.

Tim Salmons
Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

Traffic Quotes

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