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.



Total Count: 158


Audience Score

User Ratings: 190,296
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Traffic Photos

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
Orrin Hatch
as Himself
Clifton Collins Jr.
as Francisco Flores
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

  • Aug 28, 2016
    The sprawling nature of Gaghan's screenplay means that some characters are inevitably going to get lost in the shuffle but Soderbergh does his damnedest to make it work and for certain stretches the film comes together in remarkable ways (i.e the changing color plates, anytime Del Toro is onscreen).
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 25, 2016
    Traffic was directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars too many people to list here. There are three distinct storylines, intersecting at times and all dealing with the war on drugs. Soderbergh has, in my opinion, put out a LOT of solid material, and Traffic stands out as one of his finest movies and one where his creative touch is used perfectly. The three storylines are easily kept separate thanks to the different type of film used in the cameras (each storyline is either gritty, blue-hued, or normal), making its 2+ hour run time easy to digest. The cinematography is excellent as well - Soderbergh would commonly hold the camera, getting up close and personal to his actors. Speaking of the actors, everybody in this ensemble cast is terrific. From Michael Douglas to Benicio del Toro to Catherine Zeta-Jones, the whole gang puts on a show. While the storylines are dark and few characters are actually good people, the movie keeps your attention and interest thanks to excellent editing. If you enjoy crime dramas or Steven Soderbergh, you have to see this 2000 hit. Traffic is a very entertaining and enjoyable(?) watch. Final grade: A -Ben
    Ben B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2016
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 19, 2016
    Traffic did fairly well on the themes of drug abuse, and all the blurred lines separating good from bad, corrupt from principled, and love for family from call of duty when the former goes against the latter. I just didn't find it that compelling.
    Maymay A Super Reviewer

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