As a rule for all future movie reviews, I will try to minimize spoilers and let you know when they come up in my review. Another rule: it’s a simple good or bad system, no stars or anything like that. I either liked it or I didn’t. Hopefully my review will tell you the extent to which either case is true. Either way, I’m just one guy, so take all my reviews with a grain of salt. Lastly, I’ll assume you’ve seen the trailer, but I’ll include a link. Fair enough? OK, back to regularly scheduled programming.
Contagion is a disaster movie that tries to be less chicken little, more Mister Wizard. Through a handful of characters, directer Steven Soderbergh tries to convey how randomly, how impersonally, and sometimes how quickly a virus can spread across the world that is both densely populated and connected by international flights.
Although the trailer gives the impression the movie is more of a thriller, as if there are hidden conspiracies playing out, that is incorrect. It’s simply the story of a virus, albeit a very lethal virus. I said “Mister Wizard,” because the movie aims to be grounded in real science, but the science is simplified to educate and scare the audience without boring them. This is largely effectively done, despite giving the movie something of a documentary feel at times. Because of this documentary feel, the ending will feel a little rushed and sappy (the tone change is a bit jarring, but the ending is still fairly good).
More interestingly, through the ensemble cast, the audience witnesses how the cast is affected by possessing different levels of information. The scientists gather data, perform research, and try to design a vaccine. A well-known blogger mixes fact and speculation. Others get by on a mix of cable news, rumor, and fear. Like any good disaster movie, things quickly spin out of control as the world falls apart. It’s interesting to watch the various reactions on individual and societal levels, as everyone struggles to cope, with some rising to the occasion and others falling to their baser levels.
There are many great performances in this movie, and you’ll start counting every time you touch your soda, popcorn, or your face. I imagine theater bathrooms are also having to refill their soap dispensers more quickly than normal. I look at this as a good thing. The movie pulls you in, and you get wrapped up by the drama.
I enjoyed the movie, and I think you will too. As an added bonus (my wife works with these sorts of issues on a daily basis, so it made for some interesting conversation on the ride home), let me just pass on the official talking point my wife was issued: “Remember, it’s just a movie. It’s fiction.”
Or is it? I mean, what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t peddle a little conspiracy?