A tender topic gets caught up in Traffik

City Press review: Traffik

Director: Deon Taylor

Starring: Omar Epps, Paula Patton

This thriller transports the viewer to the life of a young, black couple in the throes of love.

John (Omar Epps) builds cars and restores an old Ford Mustang for his girlfriend Brea (Paula Patton). His plan is to whisk her away for a weekend trip to a fancy house owned by his very dodgy friend.

They ride along in this gorgeous car through stunning scenery. Of course, Patton looks radiant on screen as the lead.

During a stop at a petrol station, Brea notices a woman in the convenience store who has clearly been physically hurt and seems to be asking for help. It later becomes clear that she’s a victim of human trafficking.

Before Brea can help, things get racial and a bit physical between John and a group of bikers.

The couple leave quickly after a local sheriff breaks up the brawl. However, a few kilometres down the road, one of the bikers emerges in their rear-view mirror and evasive action is taken to escape him.

I can’t think of one black couple who would willingly continue on to a remote house in a town filled with racists who don’t want them around. But this couple do just that. At least their destination is a stunning house, and the love scene in the pool is epic and features a song with a fat beat.But the romance is shattered when the woman Brea saw at the petrol station rocks up at the house with the biker gang right behind her.

The feel of Traffik transitions from romance to action and suspense quite rapidly when it isn’t resting somewhere between a Tyler Perry film and one of those Vivica A Fox joints from the 90s. The cinematography is well composed, but the tone is questionable.The severity of getting trafficked only sets in towards the end of the movie and things get extremely sinister.

The film ends with some horrific statistics around this issue, but it felt off. Millions of women disappear without a trace every year because of sex trafficking, and this film is actually based on true events. Unfortunately, the message seemed haphazardly slapped on – it’s almost as if the film makers wanted to make sure they couldn’t be accused of turning a real issue into entertainment.