April 20, 2018 Traffik (Movie Review)
Human trafficking is something that happens abroad, not in the continental United States. This is the sediment most have when they hear about the topic, but in truth, it is happening everywhere. It could be happening right in your city, and you would not even know. Now that you are engaged, did you ever stop and wonder why, how, and when this sort of thing happens? Well, professional basketball player turned filmmaker, Deon Taylor, has and that is exactly what compelled him to write and direct his latest film, Traffik.
A product of Taylor’s production company Hidden Empire Film Group, Traffik has attracted a good deal of attention and as a result a new partnership was formed with Lionsgate/Codeblack Films, granting the Thriller a theatrical release on Friday, April 20, 2018. So, will Traffik strike your curiosity?
The story follows Brea (Paula Patton: Deja Vu 2006, Somewhere Between series), a passionate journalist who is working for Sacramento publication headed by Editor Mr. Waynewright (William Fichtner: Armageddon 1998, Crash 2004). Brea is more interested in real and important stories than juicy gossip merely earning rating/readership. Faced with the possibility of losing her job, she heads out on what is to be a romantic weekend with her boyfriend John (Omar Epps: Higher Learning 1995, Love & Basketball 2000). Escaping to an isolated location in the mountains, Brea and John are connecting on a deeper level as John secretly plans to propose to her at the right time. Unfortunately, they run into unforeseen problems at a local gas station where a group of rowdy bikers harass them for no apparent reason.
From here, things only go from bad to worse as a mysterious woman (Dawn Olivieri: Bright 2017, Den of Thieves 2018) crosses paths with Brea in the gas station restroom, a meeting which sends Brea’s investigative mind spinning. Little does she or John know they have become the target of a sex trafficking ring who wants to take Brea and snuff out anyone who gets in their way. A terrifying turn of a events, a planned weekend getaway turns into a will for survive. What will be the outcome?
Having enough of a mainstream feel on the surface to keep the average viewer’s attention, Traffik takes a very serious situation and turns into a non-stop Action Thriller. Carefully building the story over the first 30 minutes or so, once the trafficking group led by a character named Red (Luke Goss: Blade II 2002, Hellboy II: The Golden Army 2008) arrive at the beautiful, tucked away hideaway Brea and John are at the action begins. Because of the location, there is a sense of impending doom because no one is around for miles and help is beyond reach. Fortunately, Brea and John have enough brains and fight to hold off capture for quite a while. Although, there is only so long you can prevent the inevitable when it is essentially two against a group of murderers on your tail.
As a writer and director, Taylor (Sumeracy 2014, Meet the Black 2016) does a commendable job of making the situation feel as real to life as possible and there are many instances where, as a viewer, you feel the fear of the characters on the screen. After all, when you break it down, in these situations, if someone is captured for human trafficking, the odds of them ever being found are next to none. Being the estud journalist she is, Brea is well aware of the situation and it certainly helps tip the scales in her favor a little bit. Which leads to the overall persona of Brea’s character, not a stereotypical female running scared. No, Brea is smart, strong, resourceful, defiant, but most of all, fearless. This within itself is refreshing and empowering, all while very much being based on realistic possibilities.
Overall, Traffik is a first rate Thriller with plenty of tension to keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. From the real to life storyline to the strong cast, including supporting actors/actresses, Roselyn Sanchez (Rush Hour 2 2001, Act of Valor 2012) as Malia, Laz Alonso (Avatar 2009, Detroit 2017) as Darren Cole, and Missi Pyle (Galaxy Quest 1998, Another Period series) as Deputy Sally Marnes, there are little to no dull moments throughout the film. Buckle up and prepare to have your heart race as Traffik grabs hold of you and awakens your senses to a frightening underground world. For these reasons CrypticRock gives Traffik 4 out of 5 stars.