Traffic - power of the cartel

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German title Traffic - power of the cartel
Original title traffic
Country of production Germany ,
original language English ,
Publishing year 2000
length 141 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
JMK 14
Director Steven Soderbergh
script Stephen Gaghan
production Laura Bickford ,
Marshall Herskovitz ,
Edward Zwick
music Cliff Martinez
camera Steven Soderbergh
cut Stephen Mirrione

Traffic - Power of the Cartel (Original title: Traffic ) is an episode drama about the " War on Drugs " by Steven Soderbergh from 2000, which is based on the British miniseries Traffik from 1989. After the film success, the US television series Traffic was created in 2004 .


Traffic - Power of the Cartel shows the fight of the government, the police and the military against drugs on three narrative levels. The storylines are closely interwoven, although the characters on the different levels almost never meet.

In San Diego , two agents from the local drug squad, Montel Gordon and Ray Castro, apprehend the dealer Eduardo, who, after his arrest, helps police arrest Carlos Ayala, a middleman of the Mexican Obregón cartel. Ayala's unsuspecting wife Helena is initially at a loss. After learning of her husband's actual source of income, she is willing to continue running the business in order to maintain her family's standard of living. Therefore, in Tijuana , on the other side of the border with Mexico, she seeks Ayala's contacts to the drug boss Obregón. After she has the main witness Eduardo killed (which does not succeed on the first attempt), her husband is released from prison, but Agent Gordon does not give up the shadowing.

The Mexican General Salazar has set himself the goal of smashing Obregón's cartel and hired two state officials from Tijuana, including the police officer Javier Rodríguez. The two deliver him the contract killer Francisco Flores, whom Salazar brutally tortures in order to obtain a list of the drug suppliers involved from him. Rodríguez soon realizes, however, that the general is corrupt and has poorly honorable goals. Therefore, he makes himself available to the American DEA officers Gordon and Castro as an informant and witness.

Cincinnati Judge Robert Wakefield has been named Chief of Staff of the National Drug Control Agency ( DEA) , and in his new office he is committed to promoting Mexico's cooperation with the United States. This is how he met General Salazar. Wakefield only realizes that his own daughter Caroline, through her boyfriend Seth, is consuming drugs in large quantities when her addiction begins to have a threatening effect on his career. Wakefield realizes that the fight against drugs cannot be won by just tracking the drug sales, but by understanding the reasons behind the drug use. The film ends with Wakefield, having presumably resigned from office, accompanying his daughter to her support group to “listen”.


"[...] Ingenious drug drama [...] Intelligent and exciting masterpiece [...] The perfect balancing act between Hollywood and Arthouse."

“Brilliant […] Copfilm […], which, with the help of three parallel storylines, takes a very objective look at the drug problem and the human fate behind it. Breathtakingly authentic and played perfectly by the large ensemble. "

“The complex and sophisticatedly structured film proceeds more honestly than other Hollywood products, but without foregoing melodramatic effects. A spectator-friendly mask was put over the ambitious and critical concept, which also makes the ugly consumable. The film does indeed provide stimuli for personal reflection, but does not go far enough in presenting the ultimate consequences. "


  • After Michael Douglas turned down the role of Judge Wakefield, Harrison Ford showed interest and was very pleased with the changes that writer Stephen Gaghan had made to the script at his request. Problems arose, however, due to the height of the fee from Ford (then 20 million US dollars per film), which was to be cut in half for this film. Shortly before an agreement, Ford canceled. Michael Douglas got the script again and was also convinced of the author's changes, so this time he accepted. The fact that his then fiancée Catherine Zeta-Jones had taken on the role of Helena Ayala also contributed to this.
  • Julia Roberts wanted to play the role of Helena without a fee, but Soderbergh preferred Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose pregnancy was included in the script.
  • There are 135 speaking roles in the film, recorded in 110 different locations between April and July 2000.
  • Several members of the US Senate have made short appearances in the film.
  • The Cincinnati Country Day School private school sued the filmmakers in January 2001 for illicit use of the name in connection with drug abuse in schools. The scenes in question were cut from the video version.
  • Traffic cost around $ 50 million and grossed nearly $ 210 million worldwide. The film was financed by the Cologne-based production company Splendid Medien.


  • Traffic received 29 Critic Awards in North America alone and was named "Best Picture" by the Critics' Associations in Dallas , Florida , Kansas , New York City and Vancouver .
  • The film received four Oscars in 2001 : "Best Director", "Best Adapted Screenplay", "Best Editing", and Benicio Del Toro was named "Best Supporting Actor".
  • At the 2001 Berlinale , Benicio Del Toro received the Silver Bear for his performance as “Best Actor”.
  • The German Film and Media Assessment FBW in Wiesbaden awarded the film the rating “particularly valuable”.

Web links

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Age rating for traffic - power of the cartel . Youth Media Commission .
  2. ^ Daniel Ramm: Traffic - Power of the cartel on, 2001
  3. Traffic - Power of the Cartel. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  4. Entertainment Weekly:,,280028,00.html
  5. box office results on
  6. Traffic - Power of the cartel on