Reporter: Cameron McDonald
Contagion is an attempt at a realistic portrayal of an epidemic that breaks out across the entire world, and with Steven Soderbergh directing a vast ensemble cast of multiple academy awards winners and nominees, the bar is set pretty high from the starting line.
Fortunately, Contagion delivers for the most part on creating a unique take on the virus-thriller genre that has been iterated so many times before in movies like Virus, Carriers, and 12 Monkeys.The large ensemble cast is impressive and gets even richer with talent thanks to the slew of secondary actors throughout the film. Kate Winslett and Jude Law give exceptional performances while Matt Damon, Lawrence Fishburne and company all hold their own.
Surprisingly as well, all of these actors in one movie together don’t divert the audience from the plot, thanks to the work of Soderbergh, who prevents certain roles from super-ceding others.
This film has an intense tone and unapologetic ruthless plot. Contagion isn’t afraid to throw its weight around when it comes to abrupt and extremely raw deaths.
This “rawness” is a major part of what made this movie so original and refreshing. Most of the movie is devoid of a musical score, making the dialogue and human interactions the main focus of the film. This lends itself very well to the realistic, gritty approach Soderbergh has conveyed.
The human moments and character arcs seem much more palpable and real than in most other thriller films because there isn’t much over-production getting in the way of the characters and the story.
There are no blockbuster explosions and very little of the cliché suspense music that is all too common in the thriller genre. There are however a few dreaded montage moments, dubbed over with an overly aggressive score that takes away from the plot. Fortunately there aren’t many of them, and though they don’t match the raw and sterile feeling of the film, they don’t damage the overall tone. The story has slower moments as well, which could potentially deter viewers who were expecting a fast-paced film.
So be warned. This is certainly not a high action thrill ride. Instead it is a logical look at the outbreak of a virus with a scope that covers three continents, and still finds room for moving human moments.
For what Contagion is and what it sets out to be, it is a strong film with meticulous scientific detail for the logistics that, in a real world scenario, would factor into a modern day epidemic.
Anyone looking for a new raw take on the virus-thriller shouldn’t be disappointed with this overall excellent film.