By Gregory Crofton
Best known for the Oscar-nominated documentary CARTEL LAND (2015), Matthew Heineman has made its sequel in a five-part series that presents the Mexico-to-U.S. drug trade circa 2017.
If you were a fan of CARTEL LAND, you’ll like THE TRADE even more because instead of being a one-man-show, Heineman is able to deploy a number of cameras for this Showtime series. Consequently he tells a larger number of stories, all shot with cinematic flair and stamped with a Miami Vice-look (Michael Mann’s 2006 film), one that works for the subject matter.
Each episode is less than 60 minutes. They have a cumulative effect and over time they reveal the malignant money-driven cycle that is the modern drug trade. Some of the most powerful footage shows the harvesting of poppy fields and the manufacturing of heroin. The access Heineman’s team got is shocking and on a large-scale, similar to the meth manufacturing footage he included in CARTEL LAND.
Ultimately, THE TRADE is more compelling than CARTEL LAND because it includes the type of personal addiction stories that you’d find on A&E’s “Intervention.” These are intensely personal, family-driven and full of drama.
You can learn more about the series here.