Contagion, director Steven Soderbergh’s most recent thriller definitely brings the realistic possibility of widespread global outbreak to the big screen in a dynamic way! I had high hopes and expectations for this film since I first learned about it and highlighted it almost a year prior to its release. (check out the spotlight HERE if you wish).
First off, if you’re not aware of the stellar cast in this film that Soderbergh rounded up to work together on this film, check it out:
Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Ehle, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, and several other recognizable names and faces! The talent in this film goes even further beyond just the actors. Written by Scott Burns (Bourne Ultimatum), Produced by Gregory Jacobs (Ocean’s Twelve/Thirteen), and Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s trilogy, Traffic), the entire cast and crew of Contagion hits the mark in sharing the ghastly realistic possibility and horror of a worldwide spread of a fatally contagious virus.
You will shudder with fear at the plausibility of such an outbreak as portrayed in Contagion.
It truly is the cast and crew in this film that make it a huge success…plus a little thing known as “fear!” But in the type of story that we’ve seen over and over again (see Outbreak, 28 Days Later, I Am Legend), Contagion blends in several other elements as we follow different characters throughout the world and not only become intertwined with the mystery of the outbreak, but also with their own personal concerns and passions:
- Mitch Emhoff (Damon)- the grieving husband and father;
- Dr. Ellis Cheever (Fishburne)- the CDC spokesman and caring, although firm, leader;
- Alan Krumwiede (Law)- conspiracy theorist and online blogger sensation;
- Dr. Erin Mears (Winslet)- the investigating CDC specialist in the field; and many more.
The fear of the unknown and the plausibility of an outbreak of this type is what also carries this movie! It’s amazing how fast things like this can spread in real life, by simply not washing your hands, or covering your mouth when you cough/sneeze, etc, etc. Contagion plays on this reality and fear to tell its story effectively. The constant questions of “Who’s going to get sick next?” “Are they going to die?” “How many people will end up dead?” “What caused all this in the first place?” and “Could this really happen in real life?” will plague your mind as you watch with anticipation for every answer. Paranoia reigns supreme in this film!
The scientific portions of the film seem pretty viable (not being a scientist myself, it would seem that Soderbergh and Burns did very sufficient research). And the expected social, shall we say, degradation and high paranoia is sadly portrayed in the frantic rush for survival as people loot, kill, fight, and pillage for the necessities (if that includes nothing short of letting out some pent up frustration). It is in this world that we follow Mitch Emhoff as he seeks to not only survive, but to protect his daughter as well.
Although certain actors do not receive the amount of attention that I personally would have wished to see: the stunning Marion Cotillard, (who is growing to be one of my all-time favorite actresses), Gwyneth Paltrow, and Bryan Cranston, it ends up being okay in that the rest of the story, which ties them all together is the main concern, and thereby their presence is still felt even when not on the screen.
Contagion, a highly impressive and exciting outbreak film with elements that cause its sense of reality to increase the awareness for such possibilities. With an underlying visual political statement, Contagion spreads its message and fear to all who watch it: “Wash your hands!” While a tad bit predictable, Contagion keeps you on your toes and is an enjoyable thriller to the end.
Bravo Soderbergh and cast! Bravo!
Thanks for reading!
Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy Watching!
–TheSp1der’s Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars for “Contagion”
up next: Review for Warrior