Film InformationDirector: Deon Taylor // Lionsgate // 96 minutes // Rating: R // 2018
Reviewed by: Matt Malouf | July 17th, 2018
Plot: What’s it about?
What’s supposed to be a fun weekend getaway turns out to be a nightmare in Traffik. Brea (Paula Patton) is a journalist who gets upset when a rival journalist gets a big story that she had been working hard to get published. While out with some friends and her boyfriend John (Omar Epps), she learns that John planned to take her to a friend’s house out in the mountains for the weekend. Her two friends are Darren (Laz Alonso) and Malia (Roselyn Sanchez). Darren tends to run his mouth too much, and spoiled the surprise. We get a lot of early scenes between these characters where we learn that Brea feels John might propose, though she admits she’s not quite ready for marriage. While stopped at a gas station, Brea encounters a frail looking woman named Cara (Dawn Oliveri). She appears scared and possibly on drugs. Very discretely, she drops her phone in Brea’s purse. There’s also a scuffle with John outside with some rough bikers. This results in a motorcycle chase all before John and Brea can get to the resort and relax. Their troubles have only begun as Darren and Malia pop up unexpectedly to the house as well. Cell phone coverage is limited, but they learn that the woman from the biker was more than just a random encounter.
Traffik works in fits and starts, but never pays off in a satisfying way. I admit that some moments took a slightly less predictable path than I would have expected, but the payoff is weak. The acting is pretty good, especially from Epps and Patton who create likeable and sympathetic characters. I just wish the movie went more one way and less of the other. The story of the bikers harassing this couple would’ve sufficed, but the film gets into human trafficking and police corruption when I think it would’ve worked best with a simpler approach. When I saw the ads I was prepared for a sort of home invasion thriller. I had no idea it would go in such strange directions. There is a bit of suspense, and to be fair, the film did maintain my interest, but I just wish it stuck more to the premise it set up.
Video: How’s it look?
We get a solid AVC encoded 2.39:1 transfer that showcases the admittedly attractive visuals quite well. And I’m not just talking about Paula Patton. All kidding aside, this does do the film justice. The getaway resort our main characters visit lends itself nicely to the HD format. Strong details and a clean print all help to make this a winning transfer. Fans and casual viewers should feel pleased.
Audio: How’s it sound?
We get an energetic DTS HD track that stays pretty active from early on. The film does have a good bit of action that keeps the track busy. The vocals come with the crispness I expect. All to make this track worthwhile.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Journey into the Depths: Making Traffik – This is your standard “Making of…” EPK with some behind the scenes footage, interviews with some of the cast and crew as well as some insights into the making of the film. It’s about as “by the book” as it gets.
- Deon & Dante: The Look of Traffik – This focuses more on the aesthitics of the film with a spotlight on cinematographer Dante Spinotti.
The Bottom Line
Probably not as bad as you’ve heard (assuming you’ve even heard of the film), but Traffik can’t help but feel like a disappointment. Honestly, had it just stuck to a (dare I say) more conventional approach, it might’ve been more satisfying. We don’t really need the human trafficking element here. If anything, it makes the film feel a bit too preachy as well. Great cinematography and strong acting just aren’t enough to win this reviewer over. At most, maybe a rental.