25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SAVED!

CAST
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Mandy Moore (License To Wed)
Macaulay Culkin (Party Monsters(
Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl)
Heather Matarazzo (Hostel – Part II)
Eva Amurri Martino (New Girl)
Chad Faust (Heroes)
Elizabeth Thai (Andromeda)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Kett Turton (Wrath of The Titans)
Nicki Clyne (Battlestar Galactica)
Aaron Douglas (The Mentor)
Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time)
Teenager Mary Cummings (Jena Malone), who has “been born again her whole life,” is about to enter her senior year at American Eagle Christian High School near Baltimore. She and her two best friends, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) and Veronica (Elizabeth Thai), have formed a girl group called the Christian Jewels. Mary’s “perfect Christian boyfriend” Dean Withers (Chad Faust) tells her, as they’re swimming underwater, that he thinks he’s gay. In her shock, Mary hits her head in the pool and has a vision in which Jesus tells her that she must do everything she can to help Dean. Hoping for a sign, Mary goes to a shooting range with Hilary Faye, who has a “spiritual solution for everything” and tells Mary (not knowing about the situation with Dean) that if all else fails, Jesus could still restore their “spiritual and emotional virginity.” Believing that Jesus will restore her purity, Mary sacrifices her virginity to have sex with Dean in an attempt to restore his heterosexuality.
saved-1
Despite Mary’s efforts, when she comes by Dean’s house on the morning of the first day of school, Dean’s parents tell her that they found gay pornography under his bed and that they’re sending him to Mercy House, a Christian treatment center. Mary tells her friends, as well as Hilary’s brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin), who uses a wheelchair, about Dean’s homosexuality, and makes them promise to keep it a secret. When they arrive at school, they see Cassandra Edelstein (Eva Amurri), the school’s only Jewish student and a rebel who despises Hilary. In homeroom, Mary meets new student Patrick (Patrick Fugit), the son of the school’s principal, Pastor Skip Wheeler (Martin Donovan), a skateboarder who has been doing missionary work (through skateboarding) in South America. Mary tries to put up a good front at the assembly, in which Cassandra fakes speaking in tongues in order to get under the skins of the other students.
Mary soon realizes that she is pregnant from her encounter with Dean. When she goes to Planned Parenthood to confirm the pregnancy, she is seen by Roland and Cassandra. Roland reveals that he isn’t really a Christian, unlike his fanatically religious sister. Cassandra reveals she’s only at American Eagle after being thrown out of her old school and decided she could “handle the freaks” at American Eagle over being homeschooled by her parents. Roland and Cassandra bond over their shared skepticism. Mary finds out that she’s not due to give birth until after her high school graduation and decides to hide her condition from her friends and family until then. However, she feels forsaken by Jesus and loses her faith, causing her to be ostracized by Hilary and replaced in the Christian Jewels with a previously unpopular girl, Tia (Heather Matarazzo), who’s been struggling to get into the Christian Jewels for years. Later, after Pastor Skip gets word about Mary, he tells the Jewels to help Mary regain her faith, but they seem to misunderstand him and stop Mary in the street and try to exorcise her of demons instead.
By Christmas, Mary is still hiding her pregnancy. Cassandra mocks her about it when they are alone in the bathroom, but when she realizes Mary’s anguish, Cassandra changes her tone and offers her support. They cut school with Roland, and the three of them become good friends. When they run into Patrick and Hilary at the mall, Cassandra distracts Hilary (pretending she wants to be converted) while Patrick and Mary sneak away and Patrick confesses his feelings for Mary. Pastor Skip warns his son when they’re at home together against dating Mary, even as Pastor Skip (still married to his wife, although they live separate lives) has been secretly dating Mary’s mother, Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker).
A few months later, after multiple fights at school between Hilary Faye and Cassandra, Pastor Skip puts Roland, Cassandra and Mary on the school prom committee (chaired by Hilary Faye) to punish them. While working together, Patrick asks Mary to go with him to the prom, which Mary accepts, but as friends. Later that day, Roland and Cassandra get their hands on a picture of a younger, much heavier, and much more awkward Hilary Faye and load it onto the desktop of every computer in the school. The next day, someone vandalizes the school with graffiti. Mary and Cassandra are initially the prime suspects, and to their shock the spray cans are found in their lockers. While searching the lockers with the Jewels looking on, Mary’s homeroom teacher finds a sonogram of Mary’s baby. She tries to hide it, but it drops to the ground in front of Pastor Skip’s feet. Cassandra is expelled from school, while Mary is banned from the prom.
Pastor Skip tells Lillian that he will break off their relationship if she doesn’t send Mary to Mercy House. Lillian decides that she’s going to send Mary away, saying that it’s the best thing for Mary and the baby, but secretly because she doesn’t want Skip to break up with her. Despite being banned, Cassandra and Roland scheme to go to prom and to bring Mary with them, providing her with a dress and inviting Patrick to meet them. Roland also finds that Hilary Faye charged several cans of spray paint to her credit card just hours before the attack—indicating that she was the one who spray-painted the school.
Hilary Faye, Tia and Veronica head to the prom. On their way in, Tia finds a credit-card receipt for the spray paint—signed by Hilary Faye, revealing that Hilary did, in fact, spray-paint the school. When Mary, Patrick, Cassandra and Roland arrive, Hilary attempts to have Mary and Cassandra thrown out, but Pastor Skip decides to let them stay. The four then accuse Hilary Faye of committing the vandalism herself and framing Mary and Cassandra for it as revenge for humiliating her. Hilary Faye attempts to swear before God that she is innocent, but Tia, fed up with Hilary Faye’s lies and hypocrisy, reveals the signed receipt to everyone, exposing Hilary as the true vandal. Veronica turns on Hilary as well, calling her a fake.Eva Amurri Martino and Martin Donovan in Saved! (2004)As the now-exposed Hilary Faye flees with the others in pursuit, Dean suddenly arrives with other teenagers from Mercy House. Dean is surprised, but not upset, by Mary’s pregnancy; he meets Patrick warmly, and Mary is similarly accepting towards Dean’s roommate/boyfriend Mitch. Pastor Skip tries to send the new arrivals back to Mercy House, but they refuse, and Mary and her friends support them. Suddenly, Hilary crashes her van into the school’s huge effigy of Jesus. Realizing what she has done, she breaks down in tears of regret. Cassandra shows some sympathy towards Hilary, feeling sorry for her. As paramedics arrive to the accident scene, Mary abruptly goes into labor and is taken to the hospital.
In her hospital room, Mary’s and Dean’s friends and family crowd around the baby girl, while Pastor Skip waits outside debating whether to come in. In a voice-over, Mary tells the audience how she has returned to believing in a God who loves and helps the ones that love and help others in need.
Jena Malone in Saved! (2004)
It’s a brilliantly funny but also has underlying moral issues about Christianity and acceptance and deals with many different types of problems facing adolescents, from disability to underage pregnancy

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: WIND CHILL

Starring

Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place)
Ashton Holmes (The Divide)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Ned Bellamy (Twilight)
Ian A. Wallace (Tin Man)
Donny Lucas (Wayward Pine)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)

Emily Blunt in Wind Chill (2007)A female student (“the girl”) at a Pennsylvania university uses the campus ride share board to find a ride home to Wilmington, Delaware for Christmas. She joins a male student (“the guy”), who is driving home to Wilmington. His older car is in poor condition, with the trunk full of his possessions as he has been kicked out of his apartment. It soon becomes apparent that she is arrogant and anti-social. He seems to know quite a lot about her, stating that they have a class together, although she has never noticed him.Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes in Wind Chill (2007)They stop at an isolated gas station, where she hears him asking the clerk for directions, although he claimed to have driven the route many times. Setting off, he soon turns off the main highway down Route 606, a lonely snow-covered road through a wooded ravine which he claims is a short cut. She tells him to return to the main highway, but he refuses. Crosses, apparently on graves, can be seen on either side of the road.Emily Blunt in Wind Chill (2007)As night falls, headlights come towards them in the middle of the road. The oncoming driver does not slow down, causing the guy to swerve, half burying their car in a snow drift. The guy observes that the oncoming car, which did not stop, has left no tire tracks in the snow. While the guy walks back to the gas station, the girl sees a dark figure stagger past the car. She calls out, but it ignores her. The guy returns, saying the gas station is closed, but she does not think he has been gone long enough. Huddling in the car, the guy reveals that he had been watching her for some time. He lives ten minutes from campus, but saw her texting about the ride share in class, leading him to post the notice offering a ride to Wilmington.Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes in Wind Chill (2007)They notice a number of black-clad figures walking past the car and call after them, but they do not stop. Their faces are white and dead-looking. The guy follows them up the slope into a ruined building where they disappear. He finds frozen corpses half buried in the snow inside and also a newspaper. Meanwhile, the girl sees the lone figure again and when she touches it, burning her hand, it turns round to reveal a bloated corpse.They think help has arrived when a Pennsylvania Highway Patrol officer knocks on their window. He does not seem to understand their predicament, choosing instead to believe they were “parking”. He takes the girl to the back of his patrol car, which is clearly not a modern vehicle. When he violently pushes her into the car, the guy hits the officer with a tire iron. They awaken, thinking it was all a dream, to find that the guy has the tire iron frozen to his frostbitten hands. The girl realizes that he was badly injured in the crash, and he admits that he did not reach the gas station because he started spitting up blood. The newspaper from the ruined building is dated 23 December 1953, telling of an accident in which a young couple and a police officer were killed when their cars crashed into a ravine on this road. Retired priests from a nearby home gave them the last rites. They realize that the officer is a ghost and the black-clad figures are the dead priests.Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes in Wind Chill (2007)The officer keeps reappearing, always heralded by Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” on the car’s radio. The girl drifts in and out of consciousness, becoming in her dreams the many other people the cop has killed. She uses the guy’s telephone, from his trunk of belongings, to call for help from the junction box on a nearby telephone pole. She reaches 911, but is not sure they could hear her. Returning to the car, she finds that the guy has died. A snow-plow driver knocks on the window. He puts her into his truck and the guy’s body on the back. While driving he tells the girl that, in the early 1950s, a corrupt cop murdered people on this stretch of road and their bodies were never found. In 1953 he ran a young couple off the road, but lost control and also died in the ravine. Frequently, around this time of year, more people die on this road. In 1963, the priests were found frozen to death in their beds.Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes in Wind Chill (2007)The plowman sees headlights and believes more help has arrivied. Instead, the ghostly cop runs them off the road. The truck is not stuck; but, despite the girl’s pleas, the driver gets out to help the driver of the other car. The girl follows him and the pair see the two burning cars from 1953 down the ravine. They see the priests walk down to the trapped officer, but instead of helping him they pull the microphone from his police radio, leaving him to burn to death. His burned body crawls out and touches the plowman, who instantly freezes to death. She tries to start the truck, but the officer reappears. The ghost of the guy appears and hits him with a tire iron, saving her. As dawn breaks, she awakes back in the car, with the guy’s body next to her. There is no sign of the truck. The guy’s ghost appears and leads her up the hill, through the ruined priests’ home and to the gas station, where he disappears.In an age of shock horror which has become rife in Hollywood over the past decade it nice to see a good old fashioned horror film in the fashion of say John Carpenters “The Fog” or even Peter Jackson’s “The Frighteners” which it had elements that were very similar too. A fine intelligent psychological horror film.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT

CAST

Virginia Madsen (Sideways)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Elias Koteas (Crash)
Kyle Gallner (Smallville)
Amanda Crew (Sex Drive)
Spohpi Knight (Rookie Blue)

In 1987, Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen) is driving her son Matthew (Kyle Gallner) home from the hospital where he has been undergoing cancer treatments. Sara and her husband Peter (Martin Donovan), a recovering alcoholic, discuss finding a rental house closer to the hospital. On another hospital visit, Sara finds a man putting up a “For Rent” sign in front of a large house. The man is frustrated and offers her the first month free if she will rent it immediately. The following day, Peter arrives with Matt’s brother Billy (Ty Wood) and cousins Wendy (Amanda Crew) and Mary, and they choose rooms. Matt chooses the basement, where there is a mysterious door. After moving in, Matt suffers a series of visions involving an old, bearded man and corpses with symbols carved into their skin. The next day, Peter learns that the house was supposedly a funeral home; the room behind the mysterious door is a mortuary.Matt tells another patient, Reverend Nicholas Popescu (Elias Koteas), about the visions. Nicholas advises him to find out what the spirit wants. Later, Matt finds a burned figure in his room who begins to move toward him. When the family comes home, they find a shirtless Matt with his fingers blood-covered from scratching at the wall.The family begins to crack under the stress of Matt’s illness and bizarre behavior. The children find a box of photographs, which show Jonah, a young man from Matt’s visions, at a séance, emitting ectoplasm. Wendy and Matt find out that the funeral home was run by a man named Ramsey Aickman. Aickman also conducted psychic research and would host séances with Jonah as the medium. At one séance, all those attending, including Aickman, were found dead and Jonah disappeared.Nicholas theorizes that Aickman was practicing necromancy in an attempt to control the dead and bind them to the house. That night, Nicholas finds human remains in the house and removes them. Matt awakens to find Aickman’s symbols carved into his flesh. He is taken to the hospital, where he encounters Jonah. Nicholas and Matt begin to have simultaneous visions. Everyone in the séance is burnt, after a flash of bright light. The barely alive Aickman told Jonah to get out of the house, concerned that the demonic presence will get him next. Jonah uses a dumbwaiter to escape, calling for help. Entering an unknown chamber, Jonah realizes that he has entered the crematory. The spirit traps Jonah in the crematory, and cremates him alive.Peter and Sara learn that Matt’s cancer treatments have had no effect. They then discover that Matt has escaped the hospital. Back at the house, Nicholas leaves a message telling the family to get out of the house immediately – Jonah’s spirit was actually protecting them from the spirits. Matt breaks through the walls in the front room with an axe, revealing the dusty corpses Aickman hid in the walls. He forces Wendy and the children to get out, barricading himself inside and tearing down the other walls, as corpses begin to tumble into the room. The view switches from Matt to Jonah, who seems to be occupying Matt’s body. Matt lights the bodies and the room on fire.As the fire department arrives, Sara and Peter frantically try to get in to save Matt. The spirits, finally freed, disappear. Outside, everyone watches tearfully as the emergency crew attempts to resuscitate a dying Matt. As Matt slips away, he has a vision of himself standing in the graveyard where he sees Jonah, no longer appearing burnt. He seems about to follow Jonah when he hears his mother’s voice.He returns to his body and Jonah’s spirit leaves him. Matt’s cancer disappears, and the house was rebuilt and resold with no further reported incidents of haunting.While there are some questions that may not be answered, the story itself was more than satisfying. Special effects were kept to a minimum but used effectively and when needed. Acting was not Oscar worthy but good enough to make it all seem real. Fun when you want it and scary when you need it.

 

REVIEW: ANT-MAN

CAST

Paul Rudd (The Shape of Things)
Michael Douglas (Traffic)
Evangeline Lilly (Real Steel)
Corey Stoll (The Bourney Legacy)
Bobby Cannavale (Paul Mart Mall Cop)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Judy Greer (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Hayley Atwell (Cinderella)
John Slattery (Ted 2)
Martin Donovan (Insomnia)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Chris Evans (The Losers)
Sebastian Stan (Spread)
Hayley Lovitt (The Gifted)
Garrett Morris (2 Broke Girls)
Johnny Pemberton (Son of Zorn)
Tom Kenny (Super Squad Show)

 In 1989, scientist Hank Pym resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. after discovering their attempt to replicate his Ant-Man shrinking technology. Believing the technology is dangerous, Pym vows to hide it as long as he lives.In the present day, Pym’s estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne, and former protégé, Darren Cross, have forced him out of his company, Pym Technologies. Cross is close to perfecting a shrinking suit of his own, the Yellowjacket, which horrifies Pym. Upon his release from prison, well-meaning thief Scott Lang moves in with his old cellmate, Luis. While visiting his daughter Cassie unannounced, Lang is rebuked by his former wife Maggie and her police-detective fiancé, Paxton, for not providing child support. Unable to hold a job because of his criminal record, Lang agrees to join Luis’ crew and commit a burglary. Lang breaks into a house and cracks its safe, but only finds what he believes to be an old motorcycle suit, which he takes home. After trying the suit on, Lang accidentally shrinks himself to the size of an insect. Terrified by the experience, he returns the suit to the house, but is arrested on the way out. Pym, the homeowner, visits Lang in jail and smuggles the suit into his cell to help him break out.At his home, Pym, who manipulated Lang through an unknowing Luis into stealing the suit as a test, wants Lang to become the new Ant-Man to steal the Yellowjacket from Cross. Having been spying on Cross after discovering his intentions, van Dyne helps Pym train Lang to fight and to control ants. While van Dyne harbors resentment towards Pym about her mother Janet’s death, he reveals that Janet, known as the Wasp, disappeared into a subatomic quantum realm to disable a Soviet nuclear missile. Pym warns Lang that he could suffer a similar fate if he overrides his suit’s regulator. They send him to steal a device that will aid their heist from the Avengers’ headquarters, where he briefly fights Sam Wilson.Cross perfects the Yellowjacket and hosts an unveiling ceremony at Pym Technologies’ headquarters. Lang, along with his crew and a swarm of flying ants, infiltrates the building during the event, sabotages the company’s servers, and plants explosives. When he attempts to steal the Yellowjacket, he, along with Pym and Hope, are captured by Cross, who intends to sell both the Yellowjacket and Ant-Man suits to Hydra, led by former S.H.I.E.L.D officer Mitchell Carson. Lang breaks free and he and Hope dispatch most of the Hydra agents, though Carson is able to flee with a vial of Cross’ particles. Lang pursues Cross as he escapes, while the explosives detonate, imploding the building.Cross dons the Yellowjacket and attacks Lang before Lang is arrested by Paxton. His mind addled by the imperfect shrinking technology, Cross takes Cassie hostage to lure Lang into another fight. Lang overrides the regulator and shrinks to subatomic size to penetrate Cross’ suit and sabotage it to shrink uncontrollably, killing Cross. Lang disappears into the quantum realm but manages to reverse the effects and returns to the macroscopic world. In gratitude for Lang’s heroism, Paxton covers for Lang to keep him out of prison. Seeing that Lang survived and returned from the quantum realm, Pym wonders if his wife is alive as well. Later, Lang meets up with Luis, who tells him that Wilson is looking for him.

In a mid-credits scene, Pym shows van Dyne a new Wasp prototype suit and offers it to her. In a post-credits scene, Wilson and Steve Rogers have Bucky Barnes in their custody. Unable to contact Tony Stark because of “the accords”, Wilson mentions that he knows someone who could help.One of my favorite Marvel films. But in reality, one of my favorite films, period! It’s laugh out loud funny, with heart, and with good special effects! It is a film I definitely recommend! I really hope a second film is green lit as long as they make it fresh as this film was fresh
One of my favorite Marvel films. But in reality, one of my favorite films, period! It’s got great humor, with heart, and with good special effects!

 

REVIEW: THE SENTINEL

CAST

Michael Douglas (Ant-Man)
Kiefer Sutherland (Pompeii)
Eva Longoria (Harsh Times)
Kim Basinger (Batman)
Martin Donovan (Saved)
David Rasche (Ugly Betty)
Kristin Lehman (Andromeda)
Gloria Reuben (Falling Skies)
Blair Brown (Fringe)

Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) is a Secret Service agent and one of the personal bodyguards for First Lady of the United States Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger), with whom he is having an affair. He is one of the oldest and most experienced agents, having been involved in saving Ronald Reagan’s life. His close friend and fellow agent, Charlie Merriweather (Clark Johnson), is murdered. Garrison gets word from a trusted informant that the killing of Merriweather is related to an assassination plot against the President. The intelligence provided by the informant reveals the presence of a mole with access to the President’s security detail.

The Secret Service Protective Intelligence Division, led by Garrison’s estranged friend and former protégé David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), with rookie partner Jill Marin (Eva Longoria), is tasked with investigating the plot. Breckinridge orders every agent to be subjected to a polygraph test. Meanwhile, the mole discovers the discussion with the informant and Garrison’s affair with the first lady, and attempts to blackmail Garrison by luring him to a coffee shop known to be a meeting point for a Colombian cartel. After delaying for some time, Garrison is subjected to a polygraph. The agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division, William Montrose (Martin Donovan), decides to randomly select the means of transporting the president using a coin toss. As the President and first lady visit Camp David, Garrison’s informant calls, demanding that his payment be made at a shopping mall food court. Garrison goes to meet him, but he disappears in the crowd, and an assassin tries to kill Garrison. The agents pursue the assassin, but he escapes. Simultaneously, the presidential helicopter is shot down by a surface-to-air missile outside of Camp David, though neither the President nor his wife were aboard (due to Montrose’s coin “deciding” to use the motorcade instead).

Garrison failed the polygraph test due to concealing his affair with the First Lady. Breckinredge confronts him at his home and interrogates him, pinning him as the prime suspect. The source of rancor between them comes to light: Garrison supposedly had an affair with Breckinridge’s wife and caused the breakup of their marriage, which he denies. Garrison escapes capture and conducts his own investigation of the assassination plot. He tries to contact the informant who gave him the tip, but finds that he has been killed. In pursuit, Breckinridge gets the drop on Garrison but is unable to kill him, despite having given other agents “shoot to kill” orders. Using his contacts with sympathetic agents and family members, Garrison tracks down the location of one of the assassins, whom he kills in a firefight. He searches his apartment, finding evidence that shows the perpetrators are headed to Toronto to attack the president at a G8 summit. He leaves it in the apartment and tells Marin about it, but the Secret Service find the evidence and body of the assassin were removed before they arrived.

The President’s wife discloses her affair with Garrison to Breckinridge, who now understands why Garrison failed his polygraph test. Together in Toronto, Garrison and Breckinridge discover the identity of the assassins and the mole, senior agent William Montrose (Martin Donovan), who was never polygraphed. Montrose is in charge of directing security at the summit. The leader of the assassins (Ritchie Coster) blackmails Montrose into helping him, threatening the agent’s family. Emotionally torn, Montrose is instructed to jam Secret Service’s radios, and leave the summit with the President via a specific route.

On the night of the President’s speech, Breckinridge and Garrison race to the summit. The assassins, posing as Royal Canadian Mounted Police Emergency Response Team officers, kill several agents and corner Montrose and the President in a subterranean tunnel. Montrose reveals his treason to the President and purposely steps in front of one of the assassins, who kills him. Garrison, Breckinridge and Marin arrive, rescuing the President and the First Lady and killing the assassins. As they reach the ground level, Montrose’s handler comes forward dressed as an RCMP officer to personally perform the killings. He takes Sarah hostage and aims his pistol at the President, but Garrison shoots him dead. In spite of these events, Garrison is forced to take an early retirement due to the disclosure of his affair with the first lady, who looks on sadly from her window as Garrison leaves the White House. He does, however, make peace with Breckinridge, who finally realizes that Garrison did not sleep with his wife. Breckinridge tells Garrison that he has a date with her that evening.When I saw “The Sentinel”, I went in with all the bad reviews in mind. But it turned out to be one of those movies where you go in not expecting much and come away being very pleased with the overall result. Despite the little niggles this is a great movie and I thoroughly recommend it.

REVIEW: TRAFFIC – THE MINISERIES

 

CAST

Elias Koteas (Crash)
Cliff Curtis (Blow)
Balthazar Getty (Alias)
Martin Donovan (Legends of Tomorrow)
Mary McCormack (Deep Impact)
Ritchie Coster (The Tuxedo)
Nelson Lee (Blade: The Series)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Moneca Delain (Agent Cody Banks)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Bill Mondy (Postal)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Kevan Ohtsji (Godzilla)
A.C. Peterson (Narc)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Christopher Shyer (The Core)
Apollonia Vanova (Man of Steel)
Tygh Runyan (Versailles)

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It’s easy to get confused about what, exactly, is Traffic: The Miniseries, considering that there’s a feature film of the same name, and a British miniseries called Traffik that’s regarded as having inspired both the film and the U.S. miniseries. But the only thing that Traffic: The Miniseries has in common with these productions is its use of drug trafficking as the central plot point, and its use of an ensemble cast and multiple, interwoven story threads. Other than that loose connection, Traffic: The Miniseries stands on its own… and it stands very solidly indeed.

Four main stories are at the core of Traffic: Mike McKay (Elias Koteas) a DEA agent working to track down heroin delivery routes in Afghanistan; his wife Carole (Mary McCormack) and teenaged son Tyler (Justin Chatwin) who have just moved to Seattle; an ambitious businessman (Balthazar Getty) who discovers the shady but profitable world of smuggling; and a Russian taxi driver (Cliff Curtis) who is waiting for the arrival of his wife and daughter through the network of smuggled “illegals.” In one way or another, all four stories connect to the mysterious sinking of a ship off the coast of Seattle, to the drug trade, and potentially also to a global terrorist network.

Traffic runs a total of four hours and 23 minutes, but its pace is so gripping that you could almost watch it in one sitting; certainly after you watch the first half you’ll be dying to see the second half. The stories are deftly laid out and intriguingly developed: in each case, we see the characters getting more and more entangled in the larger web of the story. Each story thread has its own impetus, so even before we sense any connections between them, we’re completely hooked to find out what’s going to happen in each case.