Kevin Kline stars in Trade, an examination of the sex trade business between Mexico and the United States. A drama-thriller, the movie is entertaining and engaging, though it never quite succeeds in being an A-grade film.
The movie begins in Mexico, where an attractive Polish immigrant trying to get to America is kidnapped. In another part of town, a young Mexican girl is literally taken right off the street. The two girls are added to a larger group, where they are raped, sold for sex and prepared for trafficking to New Jersey. Meanwhile, the Mexican girl's brother sets out to rescue her, risking everything to cross the border. He teams up with an American detective (Kline) to find the girl and take down the traffickers.
Trade is one of those movies I was anticipating when it was first announced; but after it was delayed a year and given a very limited release date, I pretty much gave up on it being any good. Surprisingly, Trade is an entertaining little thriller. Sure, it's no Traffic no matter how much it wants to be, but it has enough interesting developments to keep you going. The first half of the movie is great, as we are introduced to the sex trade and several of the main characters. It's disturbing, but not in a Hostel kind of way, and sets the stage for what is to come. The second half is a little weaker as it turns into more of a boilerplate thriller that require a few stretches of the imagination.
The weakest part of the movie is actually Kevin Kline; while all of the other characters are naturally a part of the story, Kline's seems to simply be a means to an end. Furthermore, for whatever reason, I still see Kline as a comedic actor; he doesn't play a very convincing detective looking to break up a sex trade. On the flip side, the actor who plays the Mexican boy (I'm on an airplane right now and thus don't have access to look up his name) is quite good, as are the two girls who are kidnapped.
Another part I didn't like about the movie is the Last of the Mohicans-esque swan dive that one of the main characters takes off a cliff. The suicide doesn't fit within the realms of the character at all, and simply seemed to be a means to provide some dramatic shock to the film. It doesn't work, and isn't remotely believable.
Trade is a good movie, but not a great one. It has a few big flaws, and it's decision to be more of a thriller than a gritty drama takes away from the message the director was trying to offer. That being said, it's an entertaining film with some decent suspense and an intriguing story.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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