NOTE: For the curious, I added 2018 after this film’s title on the off chance that a reader my confuse this film with Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning film TRAFFIC, which was, in fact, based on a popular British mini-series titled TRAFFIK. Sadly, this one is nowhere close to those.
A quick opening shot of people having fun at a nightclub dissolves into a troubling image of a woman chained all alone in a darkened space. Hmmmmm.
Today is Brea’s (Patton) birthday. An eager reporter for the fictional Sacramento Times, she is awakened by a phone call from a friend, advising her that the story she was working on has mysteriously shown up in the paper under another reporter’s byline. Angry, she heads into work, where her editor (a cameoing William Fichtner) advises her that she doesn’t have the desire to go for the jugular in her work, advising her that maybe she needs to find a new occupation.
Things seemingly get better that evening when Brea’s boyfriend, John (Epps) informs her that they will be going away to a secluded house in the mountains, loaned to him by his friend, Darren (Laz Alonso), a sports agent with some big-time clients. On their way to the house, they stop at the stereotypical “town in the middle of nowhere” filling station, where Brea runs into a disheveled woman babbling about the Fourth of July, while John has to deal with a group of redneck (in these movies, are there any other kind) bikers, led by Red (Goss). As John is about to get his ass whipped, he is saved when the town Sheriff (Missy Pyle) pulls into the parking lot. John and Brea leave but soon find themselves being chased by Red. Then they’re not. Red takes a spill and apparently gives up the chase.
When they arrive at the home, they take a nice romantic swim and then are surprised when Darren and a lady friend show up to share the evening with them. While looking for her phone Brea discovers that someone has slipped a satellite phone into her bag. Figuring out it was the woman in the gas station, she ponders how to activate it. Remembering the woman had mentioned the Fourth of July, she pushes a couple of numbers and – VOILA – unlocks the phone. On the phone she finds a series of horrific photos – young woman in bad shape, obviously being held against their will. The group are about to leave to report it to authorities when they find the woman from the gas station outside, asking for the phone back. When Brea won’t return it, they are confronted by Red and his gang. What next? Read on and I’ll tell you.
I must admit that the idea for this film was a good one. Director Taylor also wrote the script, and he has put together a good story. Unfortunately, he does not have a good director. When he’s not having fun with turning the camera upside down, he’s pointing it in one direction, seemingly for minutes at a time. The film comes to a complete stop several times and it takes a lot of patience to get back into the story. There are also too many plot holes. When Brea calls the sheriff after discovering the phone, she shows up with a deputy, who she then shoots. The sheriff is in on the crime. Which made me wonder why, later in the film – still in the same small town – Brea asks a stranger to call the police. Guess who shows up?
On a positive note, I give top marks to Patton, Epps and Pyle for giving very strong performances. They made the film much more interesting than it should have been.
Video: The film is presented in a 2:40.1 aspect ratio and looks great. Credit that to the fine work of Oscar nominated (HEAT, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL) cinematographer Dante Spinotti.
Audio: The audio is in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and is really soft. Too many times you hear background sounds so loud that you miss the dialogue. Example: after the sheriff realizes the phone is missing, she bawls out the head bad guy, telling him “what if a journalist finds it?” When I heard that, I thought to myself, “seriously?” After the third listening I put on the closed-captions, to see that she had actually said, “and a journalist finds it!” Which still didn’t make a lot of sense, since there was no way the sheriff knew Brea was a journalist. Long story short – turn the volume up!
Journey into the Depth: Making “Traffik” (16:10): Your standard, run-of-the-mill featurette with cast and crew interviews.
Dean and Dante: The Look of “Traffik” (8:28): A well put together look at the work of DP Dante Spinotti.