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Contagion Review

Contagion Movie Poster

Contagion Movie Poster

Contagion is a movie about the global outbreak of a new highly contagious infectious disease that kills rapidly and has spread around the world at an alarming rate. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s 11) and featuring a strong cast that includes Laurence Fishburne, Matt Damon, Jude Law, Brian Cranston, Marion Cottilard, Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Paltrow plays a business exec who becomes sick while travelling and brings this disease back to the U.S. from Asia. When the disease begins spreading rapidly and killing the American population Admiral Haggerty (Cranston) calls on Fishburne, the head of the Centre for Disease Control, to investigate. Fishburne sends Dr. Lipkin (Winslet) out into the field to investigate further. Meanwhile the WHO (World Health Organisation) sends emotionally cold field agent Dr. Orantes (Cotillard) to Asia to attempt to uncover the source of the disease. Back in the U.S., Matt Damon plays a father/husband who has become very protective of his daughter after suffering two losses in his family already. Jude Law features throughout as Alan Krumwiede, an australian freelance journalist and conspiracy blogger who was first to uncover this disease.

If reading that above description felt long and a bit too much, then I completely agree and that is essentially the problem with this entire movie! There is far too much happening in it. The movie has the feel of an adaptation of a much larger book from which huge chunks have been cut to condense it into a more manageable film. It touches on far too much without giving enough of the desired detail. It teases by arousing interest in certain aspects of the plot then ignoring them again.

The acting is solid, it can’t really be faulted as the actors don’t appear to have been given much in terms of their characters. There are too many characters, too little time and as such they are very one-dimensional. We aren’t given any real background to the characters and rarely see them in any real situations to expose us to what kind of people they really are. That is, apart from Damon’s character. His character (Mitch Emhoff) is the most fleshed out character and Damon does a very good job of making him believable and ultimately have us root for him throughout.

You get the feeling that the movie attempted to be a little too clever and as a result ended up as a jack of all trades, but master of none. It touches on the emergence of completely new diseases, as have been seen in the last number of years with  “Bird Flu” and “Swine Flu”. It grabs our interest by mentioning the conspiracy that it may be “big pharmaceutical” creating these diseases so as to profit from the remedies then it leaves it at that. The movie refers to the dangers of pushing the widespread use of rushed vaccines without knowing the long-term effects, as happened with the ‘swine flu’ vaccine. It gives us a glimpse of the panic and hysteria that can spread, how society can turn on itself and easily disregard the cords that bind us –which is always an interesting angle –  then shows us no more.

Ultimately this movie is a decent effort, you can see what it attempted but it just doesn’t pull it off. It’s an alright watch if you’ve seen all else out now and want to scare yourself as to how easily disease can spread in a globalised world. However, you will never regret it if you don’t see this film. You may have covered all it’s basis if you’ve already seen films such as Outbreak.

Score:    3/5

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