Trafficking of young women in America has turned into a form of modern-day slavery. Living in Southern California, there are daily breaking news items concerning some white van full of young non-speaking English women who have been bought, sold and transported like cattle to a farm. As a woman of color, it breaks my heart to watch women being treated with such disdain and disrespect. Even more to the point, watching these same women drugged, raped and beaten so that some man somewhere can make a quick buck.
Thank goodness for indie filmmaker Deon Taylor for dramatizing a very real issue and putting it in the capable hands of Executive Producers Paula Patton, Roxanne Avent and Casting Director Kim Hardin. A self-taught filmmaker, Taylor believed in controlling and owning his own destiny following the footsteps of other groundbreaking filmmakers like Tyler Perry.
Traffik follows the story of Brea (Paula Patton) and John (Omar Epps) who take a weekend trip to the mountains where John intends to pop the question. When their besties Malia (Roselyn Sanchez) and Darren (Laz Alonso) show up unannounced and uninvited, the shenanigans begin and take us on a roller coaster thrill ride through the world of human trafficking.
Laz Alonso and Omar Epps held their own, but this film belonged to the women. For me, Patton turns in her best performance to date. It's the only time I haven't seen her spaced or waiting for some man to become her knight in shining armor by films end. Kudos, as well, to Sanchez for getting down and dirty and not being caught up as a glamour-puss while being held captive. I really would've had an issue if all the other dolls were beat up and my girl was still looking like she was stomping down the runway. Baby, Missi Pyle, normally seen in many quirky comedic roles, made me want to snatch her in a knot as she portrayed the woman hating Deputy Sally James. When I tell you I will NEVER see her the same again...I do not exaggerate. She definitely deserves a huge shout out for her acting in this dark, intense thriller.
One of the most haunting moments of this film was listening to Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" in the background while the women were being captured into a human trafficking ring. On a personal note...Director Deon Taylor's daughter was inches away from being a victim herself, which prompted the inspiration for producing this film. In this instance, the unknown perpetrator connected online asking questions like "Where do you live?" "What part of town is that?" All of a sudden playing those video games and chatting online with a mobile phone pose a real, credible threat and can lead to the very situation portrayed in Traffik for millions of young women.
Yes, the film is full of a few cliches and a little long in some spots, but at the end of the day, it will invoke a conversation that no longer needs to be a part of the American vernacular. Human trafficking is a modern-day slavery that has been given legs through greed and subservient issues that sinister men and women use for monetary gain. Hopefully Traffik shedding light on this credible issue will aid in shutting down this gross and inhumane treatment of women once and for all
Traffik is in theaters nationwide on April 20th.