Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Jude Law
An action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.
Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion is a modern day horror film that’s as scary as any movie I’ve seen this year. It’s a film that at times comes across like the most interesting science class you’ve ever sat through because you feel like if you don’t stay till the end you won’t know how to kill the monster and save the day when it happens to you. Unfortunately there is no big bad monster in this film you can kill in the last act in the hopes of saving your friends, instead life or death decisions are left to bureaucrats and government scientists who may or may not have your best interest at heart. What makes this film so scary is that it may be happening as we speak and there is literally nothing you could do to stop it from happening.
Contagion follows a world wide pandemic as it gallops across the globe leaving a trail of death and destruction in it’s wake. Soderbergh’s camera follows multiple characters throughout the film who have all been affected in one way or the other by the deadly virus. Some are struggling with the aftermath of the disease and it’s legacy of death, some are working night and day to find a cure and save our population from certain doom while others are simply looking to strike while the iron is hot and make a quick buck while the world burns around them.
Soderbergh has gathered an ensemble cast full of great actors who deliver performance that are usually relegated to much smaller character pieces. He does an amazing job of putting quality actors in a position to deliver solid, nuanced performances that in the hands of other directors may not have been nearly as effective.
Matt Damon’s conflicted portrayal of a man who discovers his wife’s infidelity only after she is killed by the virus is both heart breaking and inspiring. Having lost his wife and step-son on the same day he is now taxed with keeping his daughter safe and does everything he can to keep her safe. His restraint and dedication to his daughter while everyone else around him is losing it is admirable and inspiring to watch.
Also excelling is Jude Law in a role that is miles from anything he’s played in recent years. Law’s character is an internet celebrity of sorts who believes in government conspiracy and world wide collusion by the elites and spends his days trying to expose the hypocrisy of the people in charge all the while trying to profit on the tragedy around him. He believes he has found a cure for the disease and it just so happens that he is set to profit wildly as the masses search for a magic cure to the threat of death that now surrounds them. Laws character is both ruthless and cunning but he also has heart and even though he is profiting off of death, he truly believes the things that he is doing are going to some how save the world.
Contagion is a master class in film making that will inflict a paranoia upon you that will have you washing your hands and avoiding sick people in your office at all cost. Lingering shots of recently touched surfaces leave your skin crawling because you know exactly what it means for the next person to touch that surface. It’s also a film full of flawed characters put in a no win situation and yet it somehow is able to draw hope and strength from such a dire situation. Soderbergh’s directing skills are in top form as he weaves a tale that is both interesting, informative, inspiring, and terrifying all at the same time. It’s a film worth seeing because honestly it is a blueprint for a very real situation and how easily it could happen and how helpless we would all be. I would certainly recommend checking this film out, just remember to wash your hands first. I would hate to think that then next great pandemic could start in a movie theater while watching a movie about the next great pandemic.