Well, maybe its not that bad but Trade, inspired by a 2004 New York Times Magazine cover story on the international sex-slave trade, does not remotely do justice to the text.
Trades writing is simplistic, its story line implausible, its character development deplorable and overall arc laughable. Oh, and Kevin Kline the films only star power puts forth such a sad attempt at a genuine Texas accent that its just, well sad.
As for the story: Up-and-coming Polish actress Alicja Bachleda-Curus plays Veronica, the nave, disenfranchised Eastern European girl lured by hope for a better life abroad. Shes quickly and violently funneled into an underground network in Mexico City run by various nationalities of muscle. There, amid forced drugging and rape, she befriends a 13-year-old native girl caught in the same trap. The girls once-cocky older brother manages to track the bad guys toward the U.S. border (enter the Funny, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time in a city full of millions of people implausibility) where he meets up with a Texas cop (Kline).
The two men quickly form an impossible relationship built (of course) out of the cops unresolved past, which leaves room for the blindly heroic behavior necessary to carry the story on a beat-the-clock road trip to New Jersey. At the films end (yawn), a couple lines of alarming sex-trade statistics flash across the screen, as if to give cred to the films story. Sure, the numbers, large enough to make anyone nauseous when truly pondered, point to the real-world problem we have leading to affluent American basements and Internet flesh auctions. But they do not absolve the film from its faults.
Aside from the engaging opening credits set to Latin techno and aerial shots of Mexico City, Trades only redeeming aspect is that it brings awareness to an oft-ignored topic. Perhaps some viewers will take the initiative to learn more and someday affect change, as is the hope of most socially conscious films.
But dissimilar to films like Traffic and City of God, which also document shocking underworlds relative to serious subject matter and masterfully Trade trudges on lethargically like one of its drugged characters, crossing the finish line with clichd resolution, ultimately doing an injustice to the sex trafficking story.