For every creative person, be it in their social life or if it’s their profession, they will have ups and downs. They will, like an athlete, go in streaks of greatness, having a great game or a few in a row then go into a slump of some kind. This philosophy holds true for film makers as well. They all have flops.
Steven Soderbergh is no different. His career has been a varying array of films from the mind blowing good like Traffic to the painfully bad like Solaris. Last year marked one of the better moments of his career. While not ground shaking like Traffic or Sex,Lies and Videotape but not nearly as bad as Bubble or Full Frontal. Contagion is not the newest or most original story every told, in fact it’s been done several times, just see Michael Crichton’s very original and exceptional work, Andromeda Strain or even the star studded action thriller Outbreak. Contagion takes aspects of all these projects and filters them into one intense and realistic feeling movie.
A extremely deadly virus has formed and has made it’s way across 3 continents. In the matter of only a couple of weeks a true epidemic has happened and doctors and scientist are eagerly working on a cure and how and why the virus works. Heading the research is Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet. Matt Damon plays the husband of the first American victim and the carrier of the virus to the U.S. who is also immune to the disease. He spends his time trying to safe guard all he has left from contracting the virus, his daughter.
What makes the film work and what will leave you thinking about every cough and sneeze and what you touch as soon as the movies over is it’s reality and at times deafening silence. Not over wrought with dialogue, it has a smoothness and element of sharpness to it. In a time and world condition where no one is safe and anything can happen you are left with an anxiousness of what is to come.
Soderbergh adds a human element to the film that most virus movies don’t have. You don’t normally experience the pain and shock that everyone feels on a personal level like this movie brings out.
While not a perfect movie and certainly not worthy of Oscars gold, if you take the movie for what it is, a somewhat sci-fi thriller and want to be entertained for 100 minutes than most likely you will have your senses peaked and your mind getting worked. If you are looking for more than that, such as hidden messages or for this to be the next China Syndrome, be prepared for some disappointment. Overall it’s a good time and should be taken for just that.