There's a certain sprawling grandeur on view here, in the multiple intertwining tales of drugs, their transport and the war on them. Douglas plays the new drug czar, initally oblivious to the fact that his daughter is an addict; Del Toro's straight (or, at least, straighter) Mexican cop finds his superiors may not be as committed as he is; and Zeta-Jones is a lady-who-lunches, whose world falls apart when her husband is arrested for running dope. Though these characters hardly meet, their lives become inextricably linked, and no-one is left innocent or clean. If it's a little too pat - hard to credit any high-ranking judge like Douglas would tramp around drug dens himself in search of his daughter - the performances are grand, especially Del Toro, who brings a sense of complex honour to his role. Like a Robert Altman film, there are a lot of big names in small roles, which is not so much a distraction as it could be, and Soderbergh tints the Mexican scenes a dismally appropriate yellow. No punches are pulled either side of the border, and
Soderbergh's stance is clearly that neither the US-legal nor Mexican-hardcore approaches will win the war. As Douglas says, how do you fight your own family?