Plot: After some stressful news at work, on her birthday of all days, Brea (Paula Patton) could use some rest and relaxation. So a weekend excursion with her boyfriend John (Omar Epps) is just what the doctor ordered and the two plan to escape to a remote estate to hide from the world. But a routine stop for gas puts the trip on a darker path, when the couple is targeted by a gang of bikers after Brea tries to help a young woman, who turns out to be with the biker crew. This leads to the biker leader Red (Luke Goss) and his buddies harassing the couple and even engaging in a high speed chase, though Brea and John are able to escape the pursuit. Once they arrive at their isolated refuge, they’re joined by their friends Darren (Laz Alonso) and Malia (Roselyn Sanchez), who are unexpected guests on the weekend vacation. While things calm down, Brea remains shaken by the experience and it soon begins to look like perhaps the bikers haven’t vanished after all…

Entertainment Value: Traffik is an interesting movie, as it has a b movie feel in a lot of ways, but also has a good deal of polish and a dark, nasty tone, so it is quite a ride that could appeal to a wide scope of viewers. The narrative is familiar and stumbles at times, especially in developing the characters, but it covers the bases for a competent thriller, which proves to be enough. Given the b movie texture and performances involved, the lack of a deep, complex story is never a concern, though we see some glimpses of what might have been late in the film’s run. The finale is where the movie really shines and shows some promise above a capable thriller, but the build up is rather basic and doesn’t veer off the typical formula much. The twists are a little obvious, but the tension is solid and the pace is brisk throughout. Traffik is also willing to get grittier and nastier than most of its peers, which gives the movie a darker, more visceral quality and that helps it stand out. I appreciated how the film spirals out of control as it rolls on, but I can see those interested in a more focused thriller being not as enthused. I had fun with Traffik and I’d recommend it those in search of competent thrillers that lean toward the b movie side of things.

I’ve read several reviews that regard the performances here as weak, but I think they’re in line with the b movie, melodramatic nature of the material. The tone is serious and even dark at times, but it still has those threads woven throughout, intentional or not, I can’t be certain. The result is that while the cast turns in efforts that might not dazzle harsh critics or rack up awards, the performances are capable and again, suit the material well enough. Paula Patton has the most memorable presence, dialing up the melodrama in most scenes, but going with a pained or troubled look to convey emotion, which was an odd choice. I think her performance is fun to watch, but since the material is on the darker side at times, I can understand why some would prefer a more straight ahead, sincere effort. Laz Alonso also has an odd performance, as he is supposed to be the comic relief, but flops super hard. Again, this is the kind of b movie vibe I think adds to the movie, but obviously not everyone would agree. The cast also includes Omar Epps, Luke Goss, Missi Pyle, and Dawn Olivieri.

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