Steven Soderbergh’s intelligent attempt at an expose of the many links in the chain of drug culture can be seen as the Crash of narcotics.
It’s a worthy and well made film, but at times is very contrived; the way certain characters unknowingly pass each other in the streets is gimmicky at best and the fact that the US drug Czar’s daughter makes the transition from preppy to crack whore overnight stretches credulity to breaking point. In fact it’s Michael Douglas’ section that lets the film down, as it is comprised of half dry docudrama and half soapy melodrama. This is most definitely made up for by the sections on the streets, particularly Benicio Del Toro’s Mexican State policeman and Don Cheadle’s undercover narc. Soderbergh is also a little filter happy, but the direction is nowhere near as irritatingly affected as the likes of Tony Scott’s efforts.
The upbeat ending is also completely at odds with the message of the rest of the film, but like Crash, its faults are outweighed by its accomplishments yet by the end I couldn’t help feeling I’d been lectured rather than entertained.