Movie Review: Contagion

The most recent popular thriller is not one that ends with destruction, but rather a realistic look at a possible catastrophic disease outbreak. The film, “Contagion,” is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow. The film manages to depict an accurate and enthralling story of a modern epidemic. While at times a tad slow, the film as a whole is brought together in its enlightening presentation of a potential pandemic.

In the beginning of the film, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) is shown with flu-like symptoms in an airport, preparing to head home after a trip to Hong Kong. Within a few days of arriving home, she is pronounced dead due to an unknown infection. Her son later contracts the disease and is also found dead. Her husband, Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon), shows no symptoms despite contact with both, revealing his immunity to the fast-spreading, fatal infection. Shortly afterwards, multitudes of people exhibiting the disease’s symptoms are seen, and the race for a cure from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) become crucial to curbing the infection.

All the while, Mitch and his daughter stay confined to their home to avoid contracting the disease that is taking millions of lives worldwide. Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) becomes a major component of the story as a journalist who believes the epidemic is part of a government conspiracy, and as they “search for a cure,” he claims to already have one, called “forsythia.” Broadcasting his placebo in an on-line webcast, Krumweide gains millions of followers who demand the drug. In a scene at a local pharmacy, forsythia vaccinations are being distributed to a line of people that extends outside the building. Upon hearing that only fifty vaccinations are available, chaos breaks loose as those in the back of the line rush to the front to obtain the medicine. This is the turning point of the film, where civilization gives way to anarchy.

From this point forward, the movie’s main focus is on finding the cure. At the movie’s climax, Dr. Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) tests a vaccination and exposes herself to her dying father. After the confrontation, she remains disease-free. Therefore, Dr. Hextall increases the production of the vaccine for widespread use and eventual containment of the infection.

In summation, the film employs a decent cast bring to life a modern, realistic scene. The film also captures multiple interesting subplots to increase the audience’s engagement in the story. However, those expecting an apocalyptic film where disease kills all but one leading up to an “I Am Legend” plot will be disappointed.

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