I’m starting to feel like I’ve been living under a rock because in the past while, I haven’t really known much about any of the movies I watch. Usually, I just do that for B-horror and this isn’t one of those. Honestly, I never had a doubt about Contagion because Steven Soderbergh (who I love) directed it and the entire cast is pretty strong so there were high expectations for this one.
Now, just to see if they actually lived up to my expectations 🙂
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Ehle, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bryan Cranston, Chin Han, John Hawkes
When Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow) comes home from a business trip feeling ill, the following day she has a seizure and ends up dying. Shortly afterwards, her son is also infected and her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) is quarantined. At the same time, multiple people around the world also start falling ill and dying with similar symptoms. Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) is brought in to take care of what seems to be an epidemic and with the help of Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) to find out what this virus is exactly; Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) to go out into the field to contain and help set up facilities for the widespread virus and treatment and Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) to Hong Kong to investigate where and how it all began. They are racing against time to figure out the vaccine that will save the lives against the constantly changing lethal virus. While at the same time, they are up against the turmoil in the public along with people doubting their motives such as Alan Krumweide (Jude Law).
Contagion is a drama thriller as you would probably expect with the topic on hand: epidemic and racing with time. I love thrillers and I believe since Outbreak I haven’t quite found one about spreading virus that has quite as much impact. Funny enough, I have never reviewed Outbreak. These movies tend to be heavy and I spread out the viewings. But, I will do it soon. With that said, Contagion 1-ups Outbreak. I’m going to tell you a little story of what happened while I was watching this. I turned this on Saturday night after dinner and I was sitting in my room and then Gwyneth Paltrow enters and shortly leaves because she dies fairly early in the flick (is that considered a spoiler?) It becomes obvious that coughing is a symptom and then as they were going through this intense part of infected people around the world sweating, coughing, hazy vision and then they go back to Laurence Fishburne and the other doctors talking about it and then right then when its more silent and tense, my mom starts coughing. I kid you not, I jumped out of my chair and I tensed up really quickly.
Contagion was a kick-ass thriller. I have nothing but good things to say about it. The opening sequence, Gwyneth Paltrow, the buildup of the virus, the balance of chaos and tension, the whole tone of the movie: everything worked well together. The only thing was that they involved so many characters that at times, I needed to recall who those people were and a lot of times, it didn’t give the space to relate to them much. The one person would be Marion Cotillard’s character who pretty much is dismissed at the second half for a good part until she resurfaces for just a small part. Some characters, like Matt Damon, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne and Jennifer Ehle had more impact on the movie as they were the main leads of the whole operation on different sides of the situation. Matt Damon was the biggest loser in this though. He lost his wife and his stepson and even when he’s being the overprotective parent, I still felt that I supported his idea in this one. He really didn’t have much else to lose so even if it seemed unfair, extreme measures, right? I had to write some on Matt Damon because I don’t watch a lot of him and he is usually in the “meh” territory but this one, I did like his character.
Still, the other characters did a great job. I particularly like Kate Winslet’s character. If you’ve been reading my reviews, you already know I’m a HUGE fan of hers. She is just a classy awesome actress who can do no wrong. And if there is wrong, its the movie, the story, the writers and whatever else, but nope, never her. In this one, she just totally steals it. As for Laurence Fishburne, the only thing that bothered me was his moustache. It just doesn’t suit him well but other than that, his character was great. He tried to keep the pieces together and his character was human because it wasn’t a perfect savior. He just tried to balance his own personal worries during the tough time and make as objective as possible decisions based on what he had. Along with Jennifer Ehle, who I have never seen before this, was pretty awesome. She was really just in and out of scenes for short amount of times but she was in a lot of the critical scenes and handled them very well.
The character I hated the most (and I believe we are supposed to hate) was Jude Law’s Alan. The man was batshit crazy and obnoxious and just ridiculous. You know the guy that pours oil on fire. Thats him. As the story intensifies, his face just irritated me. Plus, Jude Law actually did pull off those facial expressions so well. All in all, he did everything his character needed. Great job, Jude Law. You never let me down.
Because of all the characters involved in this, switching from different levels of investigation and management and research for this epidemic, the plot stays focused on the big problem on hand. It stay tense and compelling throughout its slight short of 2 hour run time but I never felt it was even that long. Plus, in the Hong Kong scenes, they actually used some of the Hong Kong entertainment industry’s familiar faces so it hit even closer to home for me.
Overall, Contagion has an amazing cast, a gripping plot and it may possibly be the best epidemic disaster movie I have seen ever! So yes, I’d totally recommend this. Its smart and it brings out the scary level of this especially since we’ve already experienced some similar scares (not quite to their extent, thank goodness) in the past decade.
Have you seen Contagion? What do you think of its plot and the cast? Did it get under your skin?