Film Review: Contagion


Rating: MA 15+

Running time: 106 minutes

Release Date: now showing, general release

As the title suggests this is another pandemic drama capitalising on the recent hysteria associated with the H1N1 virus outbreak. This thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven) follows the reactions and perspective of all the affected stakeholders with a surprisingly global outlook! How un-American, though admittedly most of the action still takes place in the USA. There is the “man” on the street Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon) who though immune is caught up in the ensuing mayhem whilst trying to protect his only daughter. Then cut to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, where main administrator, Dr Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) sends in operative, Dr Erin Mears (Kate Winslett) to 'contain' the epicentre of the outbreak. Meanwhile on the other side of the globe Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) of the World Health Organization, flies to China in hope of discovering the origin of the virus. In the background of all of this are the money hungry pharmaceutical companies hoping research scientists such as Dr Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) can develop an antidote in time so they can exploit the suffering. In the new social media driven world "viral-leak" blogger Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) creates notoriety with his criticisim of the establishment's handling of this crisis. This is 2011 "Outbreak".

This solid script by Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum) explores many themes through various sub plots and it touches on the moral dilemma of how far would you go in order to save yourself or a loved one at the expense of someone else. There is a touch of realism as it stays true to scientific facts but manages to be entertaining as well. Some of the sub plots could have been better developed and a few characters were wasted. Damon, Fishburne and Winslett all put in solid performances with no particular shining light in this all star cast.

3.5 / 5 stars


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