Cinematic Releases: Skin Game: Traffik (2018) Reviewed

Each year, thousands of women are kidnapped and thrown into a violent life of prostitution and abuse.

Human trafficking has become a huge problem across the entire world, and is a big issue in the United States that continues to expand. In that perverse environment, women are viewed as nothing more than sexual objects that are used for the sickening consumption of men with money. As technology moves forward along with our constant social media feed, the abduction of females and young people only grows worse. Our supposed modern advances only assist in amplifying this criminal element. Parents and loved ones have many reasons to fear that any time our children leave the house, predators could simply take them hostage to be sold into sex slavery. 

This is a hard topic to document without becoming overtly voyeuristic or exploitive. In the case of Deon Taylor's new thriller called Traffik, he does so with great success. Where many horror directors would have slanted this towards dragging women through the thick of graphic rape and torture, Taylor takes a broad turn, spending more time building the foundation for characters that seek the mechanisms for escape. Set up like your standard thrill ride, Traffik finds its momentum in the way Patton's character changes throughout the film. Her advancement is the most worthwhile puzzle piece here. 

Ever seen I Spit On Your Grave? I just need a shower. 

Although some story points are glanced over and many themes do feel slightly repetitive, Taylor moves us into the belly of the beast, using vengeance subplots along with a strong female protagonist played by the sturdy Paula Patton. Where Patton has built a career foundation on many lighter roles, she changes it up by becoming a sturdy symbol of female empowerment against the nasty men that she crosses paths with. 

That seedy underworld is captured in a mixed bag that definitely calls back to the '90s era of realistic crime stories but also features some acting that curtails his viewer's involvement in the film. With a cheesy beginning that feels relatively forced, the leads seem rather uninvolved in their roles. But, once the mid-way point hits, his actors finally seem to fall in line, putting forth some strong effort to create moments of sheer tension. Also, his villains are oozing with talent that's topped by absolute white trash. 

Fans of 1997's Kiss the Girls or Breakdown (also from '97) will get a fresh reminder of how it used to be done. There are some edge of your seat moments here that serve a compass to how thrillers used to fill the multiplexes. 
Traffik definitely stumbles through some muck that's brought on by a couple unlikable characters and an intro that feels messy. But all is not lost. 

Overall, this is decent feature with a modern or timely message. Keep your loved ones close and beware freaky people at gas stations.