Movie Review: Contagion
Contagion begins the same way an illness would; calmly and hardly troubling, with a cough. But it progresses quickly, wasting no time with one individual character. Viewers are quickly introduced to a business woman in an airport who’s assuming her heavy headache is caused by jetlag. Then a man stumbles around the streets of Hong Kong, too sick to keep his eyes open. Another man collapses on a bus. A woman in power is kidnapped by an Asian village plagued by the ailment. Although the characters are brilliantly casted in this film, they aren’t the focal point until they are somehow being affecting by the disease. You watch how the disease progresses through each group of people and the very real events that could take place during an outbreak like the one being portrayed. The audience itself is overcome with fear through witnessing the potential deaths, riots, conspiracy theories, kidnappings and horrors that are paired with real life implications.
Throughout the film, Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon), who is widowed within the first ten minutes and apparently immune to the virus, plays the role of a frightened father trying to keep his daughter alive. His wife, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), is the first to reportedly die of the virus. This family’s point of view is most closely relatable while the father waits for a cure, knowing about as much as any layman of the science that goes into medicine. Then there is Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet), the genuinely kind-hearted and down-to-business doctor that is sent out to begin research on the infected in Minneapolis.
Many other A-list actors make small, albeit sporadic, appearances as the film progresses. While there is still genuine hope for their well-being and survival, some characters are not as easy to sympathize with. A prime example is Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law), a loud-mouthed blogger who frolics through the film stirring up trouble in communities that are already swimming in apprehension.
By the end of it all you’ll feel a bit shaken up, having been handed a shockingly simple explanation to how the plague began. Despite the simplistic nature of the disease, Contagion was easy to comprehend and believe without losing any entertainment value. With a couple of awkwardly placed montages depicting the science behind the cure, the lackluster cinematography isn’t deserving of praise. At the end of the day, Contagion is a long past due success after a line of zombies, air born killers and invisible enemies.