A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Traffik is a thriller about a couple (Paula Patton, Omar Epps) that stumbles across a human trafficking ring during a romantic weekend getaway. It's extremely violent, with much of that violence directed against women. Expect to see disturbing images of abuse victims covered in grime, bruises, and blood; characters are also shot and killed, beaten, and stabbed. The central couple kisses and touches each other; sex is certainly suggested, but there's no outright nudity other than a partial glimpse of a naked backside. A supporting character objectifies women, and there's innuendo and some revealing clothing (or lack thereof). Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. A supporting character snorts cocaine and chugs from bottles of alcohol; social drinking is shown. The film is clearly trying to champion a strong female character and a message about the evils of human trafficking, but it's poorly made, and its motives feel questionable.
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What's the story?
In TRAFFIK, Sacramento journalist Brea (Paula Patton) is scooped on a big story by a colleague -- on her birthday, no less. Fortunately, her boyfriend, John (Omar Epps), has big plans. He's built her a classic car and arranged a romantic weekend in a secluded mansion owned by his friend Darren (Laz Alonso); there, John hopes to propose to her. Unfortunately, on the way up, they're accosted by a gang of bikers who have a suspicious woman (Dawn Olivieri) in tow. Later, at the mansion, things are going great, but then Darren unexpectedly shows up with his girlfriend (Roselyn Sanchez). And then they discover that a mysterious phone has found its way into Brea's bag; it reveals a horrifying history of sex trafficking in the area. But before anything can be done, the traffickers show up at the door, wanting the phone back. And they'll stop at nothing to protect their evil business.
Is it any good?
Though it may have had good intentions, this movie is ultimately ineffectual, unpleasant, and borderline offensive; it's a vicious thriller that fails in its attempts to convey serious messages. First, Deon Taylor's Traffik involves characters and situations that don't resemble life; people behave in ways that are puzzling, apparently only to further the plot. (Brea's newspaper reporter job seems especially out of touch.) And when the tension starts, characters start making all of the usual horror/thriller mistakes that are always so frustrating. In the end, the movie doesn't seem to care about any of them, at all, one way or the other.
The movie's villains are as generic as they come, with a sneering bald guy as the leader and several bearded biker thugs who are indistinguishable from one another; if a good guy dispatches one of them, it means nothing. There's a "twist" that's as unsurprising as it is dumb, and, finally, like one of the so-called movies in the "torture porn" subgenre, it comes close to reveling in the brutal treatment of women -- its images of women in skimpy clothing covered in grime and blood toe a very fine line between alluring and repulsive. Finally, Traffik closes with a handful of titles with factoids about human trafficking, as if to distance itself from, and rise above, the vile stuff it has just shown for "entertainment" purposes.
Talk to your kids about ...
What did you learn about human trafficking from this movie? Does the movie offer any solutions or ideas?
What values are implied by the movie's sex scenes between the loving couple?
A character is bullied in one scene. How does he handle the bullies?
- In theaters: April 20, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: July 16, 2018
- Cast: Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Roselyn Sanchez
- Director: Deon Taylor
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violent and disturbing material, language throughout, some drug use and sexual content
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.