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Thursday, June 5, 2008

TRAFFIC (2000)

At half the length of the much admired Brit mini-series TRAFFIK, this Steven Soderbergh redo struggles to be half as memorable. The geography’s been reduced to the Mexico/USA border, but even with this tighter focus, Stephen Gaghan ’s script still plays like an obstacle course with too many cross-circuiting drug deals. And the heavy hand of producers Ed Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz is never far away. They never met a project hey couldn't overload. Using stars in minor roles helps us keep score (it’s a treat to see underused mugs like Peter Reigert & Steven Bauer get some licks in and the Oscar’d Benico Del Toro really is something to see), but Soderbergh’s use of ultra-stylized visual palettes as a sort of storyline code never takes hold. It's seen, but not felt. And losing the astonishing Bill Patterson from the Brit version, even for a host of big name Hollywood stars, is too high a price to pay.

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