Saturday, December 22, 2012
Contagion is a thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors attempting to deal with the outbreak. Hasn't this story been played out by now, or is their really need for another film about a deadly virus. Director Steven Soderburgh does what he usually does by overcasting the film with high profile celebrities hoping to compensate for a lacking script from Scott Burns.
Soon after her return from a business trip to Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff (Gwenneth Paltrow) dies from an unknown virus, shortly followed by her young son later the same day. Her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) however seems immune. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet) and the World Health Organization (Marion Cotillard) work to identify the virus and to develop a vaccine as the contagion spreads to millions of people worldwide. The story addresses how an epidemic impacts various individuals from civilians to the government and how the society order will break when people begin to panic. The lack of communicating details by the government leads a blogger (Jude Law) to come at odds with the government over the truth.
None of the individual performances stand out, but the cinematography captures the international perspective of the film. Perhaps it was the scientific method of explaining how a virus works that lost my attention. Additionally the blogger concept never seemed to fit as there was only claims of having 12 million followers of the blog, but not real impact recognized. His message is ominous and seems more like a political message being delivered by Steven Soderburgh. There may be some truth to the corporate and political implications, but if that was the point of including the blog story in the film it missed for me.
The result of the film is that the audience will likely be overly aware of people coughing on public transportation and the overuse of hand sanitizer. The film does a better job than the previous outbreak films, but nothing stands out. Steven Soderburgh does well with ensemble casts as he has done with "Ocean's Eleven" and other films. Each of the high profile actors in the film get their moment, but the lack of character development prevents the film from taking any larger level of appreciation and is why it is a 3 Quack film and I will wash my hands and use hand sanitizer more (I promise).