I guess if the message has not penetrated by now, it never will: The war on drugs was over a long time ago. And guess what?
They will always win, and the battle fought over them will continue to destroy lives … unless we finally admit that the American problem does not have its roots in Mexico. It is right here in the Good Ol’ U. S. of A. If people want them, other people will provide them. If they are illegal, the people who supply them will be very, very bad people. What is so hard to understand about that? Is your little darling child snorting or huffing or free-basing or shooting up? Don’t blame the fucking Mexicans, or Columbians, or Peruvians. Blame your little darling. Get him or her help, if you can.
This is a very depressing movie, as all honest movies about drug wars and trafficking are depressing. The cast is terrific: Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro (who won the Oscar), Michael Douglas, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Stephen Soderbergh directed, and also won the Oscar. He uses a novel technique, which is to film the scenes set in Mexico in sepia tones, the scenes in Los Angeles in lush California colors, and the scenes in D.C. in very cold shades of blue.
There are several parallel story lines that don’t all intersect, and that’s fine. I thought the most effective one involved Douglas, who has just been named the new “Drug Czar.” And if that title in itself doesn’t say one hell of a lot about the idiocy of our drug policy, I don’t know what does. He is concentrating on the problems along the border, while back at home his darling child is injecting heroin between her toes. The scenes where he is trolling the scariest parts of town (read, black parts of town) to find her are excruciating. And, god help me, I found myself thinking “It serves you right, you blind asshole.” You can take your war on drugs and stick it right up your ass.