All it takes is one point of touch.
A simple handshake, handing a credit card to pay the bill, grabbing a glass off a table. That’s all it takes for a potentially deadly disease to jump from one person to another.
Then why the hell of all places, did I have to sit in front of a guy who coughed throughout the entire film Contagion in a semi-empty theatre??
The new Stephen Sodenberg film takes a unique look of how the world would respond to a potentially fatal disease outbreak.
What makes this film so unique is that it seems to be quite grounded, showing realistically (or as realistic as we percieve it would be) what would happen. There is no shadowy government conspiracy, there is no thought that it could wipe the entire human race off the map, and there is no single guy screaming “you have to listen to me” when the upper ministers refuse to believe his theory of the disease.
But interestly enough, the real fear from the movie comes in it seeped in realism, with the scientists both at the Centre of Disease Control (CDC), led by Dr Ellis Cheever (Lawrence Fishburn), and the World Health Organisation, whose main person on the ground is Dr Leonara Orantes (Marion Cotillard), who must figure out this mysterious disease, where is came from, how far it has spread, and more importantly, how to stop it.
Other than the scientists working on the cure, we also see the stories of father Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon) who was part of the outbreak from day one, when his step-wife and son died from the disease, and how must he needs to protect his daughter to make sure he doesn’t lose the other person he loves, and blogger Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law), who saw the potential this disease had from outbreaking, and starts his own campaign talking about the “lies” the government is telling about it, and how there is a real cure out there.
As you can see, this is quite an ensemble cast, with a number of high profile cast members involved (I was even surprised when comedian Dimitri Martin popped up in a role) with a lot of interlocking stories winding through the main plot of beating the disease. And of course one of the main problem with a story like this is that there is too much of an emphasis of one stories, while the other plots fall by the wayside.
Luckily Sodenberg does not stumble at this step, as a lot of the smaller stories get a fair share of screen time, and we see an ample amount from all the characters involved.
True some stories are either unnecessary or don’t get a proper conclusion to the conflict (Coiltard’s story is surprising lacking in any depth), but overall from a winding story like this, it keeps a pretty steady hand on the rudder.
The acting is what we expect due to the experience involved and under the steady gaze of Sodenberg, as Damon does a steady job of a grieving father who must fight to protect his last love, and Fishburn who needs to have a cool head to the public, while at the same time worrying about the people he cares about and what he can do to keep them safe, are probably the two outstanding roles in a list of many.
Overall, Contagion is a perfect middle of the range virus outbreak film. But the problem remains that keeping it grounded, and leaving out the tension and action we would expect otherwise, makes the plot plod along in the middle, and truth be told the conclusion was not as satisfying as it could have been, as while we were given hints at life returning to normalcy (and how this messy problem all started), it could have given us the proper ending to most, if not more than a couple of characters, as they stare down the aftermath.
Truth be told, Contagion does well keeping solid in delivering a realistic story, and while it is terrifying to think given the right circumstances, how easy it would be for a solid disease to actually outbreak like this, it never gives us the all important thrill in beating the disease.
If you are expecting a massive action thriller like Outbreak II: Monkeys Take Manhatten then give this a miss (but that’s a good idea for a movie isn’t it!), but if you want a decent drama thriller that has the potential to actually happen, get yourself a dose of Contagion (…yeah I had to).
Just do not see this film if you have a cold or coughing a lot, or you’ll be like that guy behind me and freak everyone out they only have a few days left to live!
Rating: 3 1/2 Reels