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Traffic Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The rare Hollywood epic that dares to entertain an audience by engaging the world.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    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.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    The story itself is surprisingly seamless, yet it's the individual components that linger.

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  • See all Traffic reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Tons of drug use, violence, and depressing stories.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that drug abuse, drug smuggling, and the United States' war on drugs are the central themes of Traffic, a movie that condemns instead of glamorizes drugs yet graphically shows scenes of users doing drugs and drug-related violence. The former is perhaps most disturbing in several scenes of teenagers having afterschool parties in their parent-less homes, smoking pot, drinking, taking pills and (eventually) smoking heroin. One teen has an overdose and stops breathing. Two young characters eventually take to shooting heroin; all of this is graphically depicted onscreen. In addition to the disturbing sexual scenes there are numerous scenes of brutal, gory violence: point-blank shootings, torture, execution-style murder, a scary guy threatens a pregnant woman with the murder of her young child, and so on. Traffic is very strong stuff and may make drugs look appealing to teens; watch with kids if they watch at all.

  • Families can talk about drugs, both their own views on individual drug use and the impact that the drug business has on the community and the country. Did the movie make you feel differently about the role that illegal drugs play in the lives of people around us? When the judge asks the staff for new ideas, the response is silence. What should the next person to hold the anti-drug czar job do?
  • What is the effect of the violence in this film? Does it underscore the film's messages or is it gratuitous?

The good stuff
  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Though many of the main characters in Traffic are ruthless and amoral, two DEA agents uphold the law passionately. The cast boasts very good racial and ethnic diversity, with many main characters of color.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Many, many scenes of violence, including gory point-blank shootings of characters we've grown to know, hideous and extended torture scenes (most of the blows occur offscreen), a car explosion, a young character has a seizure and stops breathing, a pregnant woman is threatened if she won't do cocaine, a man threatens to murder a young boy, and so on.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Very explicit situations, including an underage girl who prostitutes herself for drugs, we see a man thrusting forcefully on top of her as we see him nude from the rear in a sleazy hotel room. Teens discuss having sex and doing heroin as they climax together.

  • language false5

    Language: Dozens of uses of "f--k" and "s--t," in Spanish and English.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Many scenes of people transporting, attempting to steal, and doing various drugs. Characters onscreen snort cocaine, smoke marijuana, smoke and shoot heroin. We see heroin users cook their drugs in a spoon and then inject them, graphically. A visibly pregnant woman is almost forced to do cocaine under pain of death.