While Contagion is most definitely a thought-provoking movie, it’s not much fun to watch. In fact, it’s downright terrifying for its sheer plausibility. The story revolves around a deadly virus that’s spreading like wildfire across the globe, claiming the lives of many, and threatening hundreds of millions more. As government doctors, scientists and bureaucrats race to identify the virus and deal with the outbreak, ordinary people struggle to maintain civility in the face of an invisible enemy.
There are no big explosions. No car chases. No romantic entanglements. Just a very realistic look at how incredibly susceptible we are to the spread of germs as well as the spread of (mis)information and panic.
The movie features an A-list cast that includes Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, Elliott Gould and the renaissance man, Dr. Sanjay Gupta (as himself. okay, it’s just a cameo – but how’s that for realism?) Damon’s character is probably the most developed, but even he plays second-fiddle to the microscopic antagonist.
Contagion will inevitably draw comparisons to the 1995 movie Outbreak. But stylistically, it’s quite different. Director Steven Soderbergh (Oceans Eleven, The Informant!) crafts a movie that doesn’t need much by way of theatrical embellishment to create drama. It opens with a cough and closes with… well, something less than closure.
Contagion may be a work of fiction, but it’s rooted in fact and fear, provoked by the likes of SARS, H1N1, Avian Flu and the constant threat of biological warfare. Ah, good times.
I should’ve bought stock in Purell.