Contagion (2011)

January 11, 2012 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

Bacteria and diseases are threats we face every day with the potential to kill us off in masses bigger than the casualties in epic wars if it grows to become a perfect monster. Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion centers around a mysterious deadly disease that breaks out, and the film takes multiple perspectives of an international team of doctors that have to deal with the outbreak, along with various people that contract the disease  or are caught up in the chaos. Once again, Soderbergh rounds up a superb cast, including Kate Winslet, Matt Damon and Lawrence Fishburne, and manages to juggle the talent effectively.

Soderbergh has proven time and time again that he has the skills to work with a big, talented cast without missing a beat, and nothing changes in that department with Contagion. The film moves at a brisk pace, keeping the audience tense and keeping all the stories easy to invest in. Playing out like a realistic zombie flick, without zombies, Contagion digs into your skin, igniting the fear of bacteria, disease and every other contaminating threat that can’t be seen by the human eye. The pulsing beats of the soundtrack add to the tension of watching the world crumble by an unknown disease, and the script is tight and highly engaging, even if audience members have no experience in the subject.

As a unit, the cast is solid, but there are a few standout performances that lead the way. Kate Winslet plays Dr. Erin Mears, a dedicated Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, and she gives an engaging performance of someone that wants to do more to help despite her limited tools to do so. Winslet projects Mears as a character that makes her job her life, and fearlessly gets into the storm of the matter to lend a helping hand. The other performance that can’t be denied is that of Matt Damon’s, playing Mitch, a father that abruptly loses his wife and step son to the mysterious disease. Mitch is just one of those characters that you can’t help but imagine yourself as, influencing the you to wonder what you would do if you were handed the same tragedies. Damon gives  a strong everyman performance that strikes your heart in the silent moments amidst the chaos.

Contagion gives audiences a realistic look at what would happen if a mysterious disease decides to rear its ugly head and take us apart in growing numbers. This film will make you think twice about what you touch, how many times you wash your hands, what you eat, what you drink and who you interact with. The fear it builds is based off of something in our lives, it’s not just some fictional monster, it’s very real and it’s immune to shotguns.

Potential Drawbacks:

Contagion is not an action-packed film or zombie flick that some of the trailers may project it to be, so viewers that expect it to be so may be disappointed. It is a realistic film with a strong voice that doesn’t let up.

The numerous stories might put off some viewers, so if you don’t enjoy a film that jumps from story to story, then this film might be a chore. Those that are fearful of bacteria or disease, on a serious level, probably shouldn’t give this film a shot.

Despite the good balance of characters, the number of characters might be overwhelming, and some characters may not seem to be as necessary as others.

Film Recommendations:

 Requiem for a Dream
28 Weeks Later



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