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Traffic

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Benicio Del Toro, Traffic (Movie - 2000)
Traffic: Bob Marshak

We gave it a B

Most computers these days come with DVD players. And as video-watching expands from the couch to the desktop, DVDs themselves are starting to resemble pieces of software, with new, improved versions trumpeted like the latest Windows upgrade.

Case in point: The drug-trade saga Traffic. The movie came out in basic VHS and DVD editions in May 2001, just two months after it won Oscars for director Steven Soderbergh, screenwriter Stephen Gaghan, editor Stephen Mirrione, and actor Benicio Del Toro. Now that the Oscar hype has passed, the movie looks a lot more workmanlike. But that didn’t deter specialty label Criterion from releasing what might be titled ”Traffic 2.0”: An overstuffed two-DVD set with a so-so commentary by Soderbergh and Gaghan (who provide about 20 strong minutes in a long and winding 147-minute track), a better commentary from New York Times reporter Tim Golden and former DEA agent Craig Chretien (they were paid consultants on the film), and 25 deleted scenes, the loss of which probably hurt nothing except the feelings of the actors involved (mainly Dennis Quaid and Catherine Zeta-Jones). If this were ”Traffic”’s video debut, these goodies would feel more relevant. As it is, Criterion and the major studios should start thinking seriously about selling come-lately deluxe editions in a new way: with rebates for everybody who bought version 1.0.