Contagion (2011)

Contagion (2011)
  • Time: 106 min
  • Genre: Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow

Contagion follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. As the fast–moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart.


  • Average movie. The beginning was okay, and the first half hour was even pretty good. But then it started to get boring, for a thriller I missed the suspense. The drama-part is not bad: “Contagion” shows us how the human can be scared and panic when a virus is coming out. The cast was okay, Matt Damon particularly was pretty convincing. But like I said, it’s an average movie, you won’t miss something if you haven’t seen this.

  • Contagion is one of the year‟s more anticipated films, helmed by a master filmmaker who has made a wide variety of films in different genres for more than twenty years now. In the mainstream circles, he is well-known for directing the ‘Ocean’s’ (2001, 2004, 2007) trilogy, though in all honesty, the name Steven Soderbergh has been lauded more in the American independent cinema scene than anywhere else.

    This brings us to Contagion, a commercial effort no less that will also be screened in the IMAX format. This implies that it is not only a film to be seen, but to be experienced as well. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by what was presented on screen. When a film that proudly markets its tagline as “nothing spreads like fear” is inexplicably dull, it is sure to be a disappointing, or at best, an average experience.

    And that is my judgment of Contagion – a mildly unsatisfying picture with a premise that offers so much but is never, truly explored or exploited to its greatest potential. In a way, this is Soderbergh’s ‘Outbreak’, the forgettable Wolfgang Petersen thriller of the mid-nineties also centering on an epidemic.

    Contagion features one of the strongest ensemble cast committed to a Hollywood production in years – Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet. Even John Hawkes, who was nominated for an Oscar for a supporting role in Winter’s Bone (2010), makes a cameo appearance as a janitor.

    The strength of the cast is sadly weakened by the film‟s loose approach to its narrative. No particular actor is outstanding here as not enough screen time is given to them to perform. There is also one character too many, causing our attention to split.

    This lack of character focus is one of Contagion’s flaws, yet it is its pacing that is its biggest problem. The surprising lack of urgency makes this a relatively pedestrian film that is sometimes guilty of ignoring the audience’s need for excitement.

    I appreciate, however, the effort the filmmakers have made to stay true to realism, by which I mean the film’s depiction of what actually goes on behind-the-scenes in bio research labs and how organizations such as the World Health Organization would reasonably tackle deadly epidemics such as the one presented in Contagion.

    Soderbergh, whose previous works have been relatively liberal either in content or in filmmaking style, has chosen to adopt a more conservative approach to handling Contagion. “The government is always right” seems to be the mantra and any radical notion as espoused by bloggers (represented by Law’s character) trying to seek the truth is tossed into flames.

    In a nutshell, the impact of Contagion’s treatment of social-political themes is not readily felt, neither is it an entertaining film to begin with. Watch it if you wish to, for you might come out of the theater with a different opinion.

    GRADE: C+ (6.5/10)

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