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> Monday, September 26th, 2011 > Lifestyles > Reel Views: Contagion nothing but a cheap scare
Reel Views: Contagion nothing but a cheap scare
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Alison McGee
Published: Monday, September 26th, 2011
What would happen if an epidemic more deadly than anything the modern world has ever seen occurred, and a frantic race began to find a cure to save humanity? That is the situation that Contagion, the newest film from director Steven Soderbergh, explores.
The story begins on Day 2, when Beth Emhoff is in an airport, looking sniffly and eating from a bowl of bar nuts. Time quickly progresses to a few days later when Beth experiences violent seizures, foams at the mouth and promptly dies in a Minneapolis emergency room. Concurrently, a man in Hong Kong seizes while on a bus and is dead minutes later, and a Ukrainian model is found dead in a hotel room. Eventually the Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organization realize that there is a deadly epidemic that is rapidly spreading to all corners of the world. Experts are called in, entire cities are quarantined, mass graves are dug and body bags are in short supply. The virus kills nearly 27 million people by the film's conclusion.
Contagion does indeed have an all-star cast; however, few manage to survive to the film's end. Gwyneth Paltrow takes the lead as Beth, whose poor hygiene habits condemn millions to die. While it is entertaining to watch Paltrow die on screen, her character seems flat and fake. Matt Damon plays Beth's husband, Mitch, the one man who has a natural immunity to the virus. Damon's emotions runs deep and his effort is apparent on screen as he plays a father trying to keep his daughter safe.
Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard all play medical professionals, each one dealing with a different struggle. Fishburne and his team work frantically to find a vaccine, and his fervor in the role forces the audience to feel his panic. Winslet plays a disease specialist, and during one particularly emotional scene in the film, she may just have your eyes watering. Cotillard plays the film's most enigmatic character, and her general calmness punctuated with rash decisions makes her one of the film's highlights.
Jude Law, Elliot Gould, Enrico Colantoni and Bryan Cranston all play minor yet entertaining roles in the film as a conspiracy theorist blogger, a biological scientist, a security specialist and a military general respectively.
Although Contagion is well edited to alternate between the fast-paced panic of trying to escape the virus and the long, monotonous wait for the vaccine to be ready, the film is generally uninteresting. Aside from the gruesome deaths, which are sadly diminished in effect due to their non-stop occurrences, Contagion has very little conflict or drama. In a word, it's boring.
Aside from reinforcing that yes, you should wash your hands, this flick has nothing to offer. If humanity-ending virus flicks are your kind of movie, then this might be worth it. If you've always wanted to see the lovely Gwyneth kick the bucket on screen, then it's absolutely worth it. But if you're looking for a smart, interesting movie about a killer virus, this is not the one for you.