Review: ‘Contagion’ Wash Your Hands. Now!

Contagion was….

You know, before I begin telling you how much I liked this film about an infectious disease that takes over the globe in a matter of weeks, I have to warn you that you will need to purchase hand sanitizer before you enter the theater.

Why?

Because director Steven Soderbergh does such a brilliant job with this film that you will immediately want to bath your hands, face and entire body in Purell. And then after it dries, you’ll re-apply it just to make sure you got all the parts you forgot. 

The story begins on Day 2, when Gwyneth Paltrow — let’s call her Patient Zero – sadly begins showing signs of sickness after a business trip to Hong Kong (I say sadly because I love her). Quickly, the disease overtakes her and she lays in the hospital dying as her husband Matt Damon struggle’s to make sense. Don’t worry, I didn’t give anything away if you watched the trailer.

Damon, we find out, has a natural immunity but still is moved into quarantine as the disease spreads.

As this is happening, we move focus to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in Atlanta where Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet try to get control of the outbreak.

Even more characters come into ever growing story; a World Health Organization representative (Marion Cotillard), a blogger (Jude Law, complete with snaggle-tooth) who thinks the government and pharmaceutical companies are conspiring to hide the truth and Elliot Gould as a crusading scientist who thankfully doesn’t listen to his superiors.

Contagion is equal parts drama, horror, thriller, detective story and CSI procedural all rolled into one incredibly entertaining (and scary) film. One of the great things about the film is that Soderbergh isn’t giving us a lecture. Yes, he jam-packs the film with useful health information and many shots of doorknobs, cups, keyboards – everything we touch on a daily basis – he’s also giving us a truly engrossing story.  The all-star cast could have easily made this like a 2011 version of The Towering Inferno or Airport, but you never once go, “Look, there’s Bryan Cranston!” They all make their characters instantly relatable; particularly Damon and Gould. Both are in Soderbergh’s rotating cast of actors and you can see why – they are wonderful in the film and stand out and in this huge cast which is not an easy thing to do.

Like I said earlier, the film starts out on Day 2. At the end, we have what I called, The Hangover moment where we find out what happened on Day 1.

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