Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. It's every bit as thrilling and engrossing as the best spy thriller or cop flick.
  2. Reviewed by: Jeff Stark
    100
    In the scorching new film Traffic, director Steven Soderbergh captures the hypocrisy -- and tragedy -- of the nation's unwinnable war on drugs. Traffic is a huge, determined movie in every way.
  3. May be the first Hollywood movie since Robert Altman's "Nashville" to infuse epic cinematic form with jittery new rhythms and a fresh, acid- washed palette.
  4. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    Traffic doesn’t quite come to a full emotional boil at the end. Soderbergh is too knowing to offer easy solutions. But what a journey it takes us on: disturbing, exciting, completely absorbing.
  5. 94
    Traffic is a riveting, semi-documentary drama, and yet calling it that is a disservice to just how suspenseful and stylish an entertainment it is.
  6. 100
    Soderbergh's story, from a screenplay by Stephen Gaghan, cuts between these characters so smoothly that even a fairly complex scenario remains clear and charged with tension.
  7. It's a thriller that really thrills, a drama that really engages, a portrait of a world and system out of joint that is painfully convincing and totally engrossing from the first simmering minute to the last explosive second.
  8. Borderline brilliant. Tackles the war on drugs from a kaleidoscope of perspectives.
  9. A flat-out electrifying experience.
  10. Explosive entertainment, with the tension and volatility of its subject matter.
  11. Atriumph on almost every level. It is breathtakingly stylish, wonderfully acted and its three interrelated tales of the "war" on drugs are brilliantly structured to form a cohesive, powerful whole.
  12. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    88
    It's the best drug-busting movie since ''The French Connection.''
  13. He's (Soderbergh) among the few directors working today who makes me wonder what he'll do next - and draws me into the movie house, whatever it may be.
  14. The picture's thoughtfulness and ambition make it unusually suspenseful, gripping, and disturbing.
  15. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    75
    The story itself is surprisingly seamless, yet it's the individual components that linger.
  16. 70
    Though meticulously researched, well acted and filled with striking moments, the movie ultimately feels oddly disconnected.
  17. 89
    It's a thrilling, powerful movie, and one that certain people in certain quarters may have at one time called dangerous. Some of them may yet still.
  18. The rare Hollywood epic that dares to entertain an audience by engaging the world.
  19. There's not a smarter, more demanding American film from the past year.
  20. 100
    It is a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, a beautiful and brutal work.
  21. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    100
    Enormously ambitious and masterfully made, Traffic represents docudrama-style storytelling at a very high level.
  22. 90
    His (Soderbergh's) work has taken on echoes of a classier, bygone age of cinema, at once more literate and lighthearted.
  23. 90
    Traffic is not just an ultra-procedural--it's the Big Picture, the Whole Enchilada, complete with a complicated war between two Mexican drug cartels.
  24. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    90
    One of the things that makes Traffic so very good is the wry humor that's laced throughout the film. It's a funny movie.
  25. Sinfully watchable ensemble movie.
  26. As with much of Soderbergh's avant-garde work, his garde isn't quite as avant as he would have us believe it is. Still, 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.
  27. So though it takes important steps in that direction, the film pulls back from what seems to be its own logical conclusion.
  28. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    60
    Finally, though, Traffic, for all its earnestness, does not work. It leaves one feeling restless and dissatisfied.
  29. 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.
  30. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    50
    You could get high on this movie's technique, dizzy on its storytelling. Yet it's one of the most lucid bad trips ever made.
  31. 65
    It’s Del Toro who really gets to strut his stuff with a subtle, ambiguous, and riveting performance. In a field of top-notch actors, he’s the one whom you remember days later.
  32. 75
    Where Traffic stumbles is in its inability to engage the heart with the same fervor it engages the intellect.
  33. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    90
    Movie excitement from beginning to end.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 127 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 31
  2. Negative: 3 out of 31
  1. Aug 2, 2012
    10
    A true thriller at it's best. This is a film charged with tension, drama, and suspense. Not to mention the truly inspiring and detailed story it delivers. Overall a great screenplay that manages to swiftly switch between different scenarios and keep every story engaging, as well as easy to follow. Not to be missed. Full Review »
  2. Jul 9, 2012
    10
    Steven Soderbergh, the master of narrative, creates a drug, crime film the way one should be made. What
  3. May 23, 2013
    9
    Traffic is a brilliant collection of stories involving strong characters and gripping story-lines, sometimes brutal and tragic; a drugs film told with intoxicating panache, all without becoming too-heavy, which is refreshing in a pool full of films such as Less Than Zero, Requiem for a Dream and Blow. There are stints of hope in Traffic, yet it wisely restricts this hope in its acknowledgement that no matter what anybody does, drugs are an unshakable part of modern life; you can cut it down, but there’s no stopping it.

    9.3
    Full Review »