Generally gripping multi-story drama about Americans and Mexicans on all sides of the failed "War on Drugs", based on the British mini-series Traffik. Like all of Steven Soderbergh's work, this film is stylish, gritty, creative, honest, and well-made.
If I don't find Traffic the be-all end-all drug saga that other critics are claiming it to be, it's for one reason: I just couldn't buy into the implausible subplot featuring Michael Douglas as the drug czar for the US government who discovers that his own daughter is an addict. The plot device – presumably a remnant of the British original – is way too contrived, and his response is way too heroic. Should such an outlandish thing happen in real life, I think the character would be more preoccupied with how it would hurt his career. He is in politics, after all. (You may recall that George H.W. Bush blithely served as Vice President of the US at the start of the Drug War while his son, also a future President, struggled with alcohol addiction and, reportedly, with cocaine as well.) But perhaps it's just because I don't like Michael Douglas.
Most of the rest of the cast is fine, particularly Benicio Del Toro and Don Cheadle, who both give very human performances as Mexican and American police officers trying to do right. The film, of course, deserves its acclaim mainly for being a frank indictment of the costly and misdirected war on drugs. Though there are a couple Big Monologues About Why the Drug War Failed, they are smartly given to supporting characters, and are usually couched in humor so that they don't come across as too heavy-handed.
Ultimately, Traffic suggests that, since nobody can possibly win this war, all we can hope to do is win our own small individual battles. It's a decent, earnest statement from a decent, earnest movie.