Review – Contagion

“By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birth right of the earth, and it is his against all comers” – HG Wells, War of the Worlds

Despite the technological advancements of the human race, our single greatest development is our immune system. Sure, the latest gizmo from Apple may have spent five years in development and have a touch screen, big deal! Your immune system can claim billions of years in development with the application of saving your life. A war is being waged every day on a cellular level, and microscopic diseases have a knack for reminding us of who is the boss. ‘Contagion’ takes you to the viral battlefront as an infectious disease threatens the lives of the world’s population.

Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) arrives back from a business trip to Hong Kong feeling sick. Her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) is shocked when she has a seizure and she is rushed to hospital. Around the globe, people start to show similar symptoms and an unknown disease spreads. In response, Government organisations begin to mobilize with disease control organisations to stop it.

‘Contagion’ does a good job of creating a level on discomfort and paranoia. Director Stephen Soderbergh creates a world that is a germaphobes nightmare. My wife was reaching for the hand sanitiser within minutes of ‘Contagion’ starting – sweaty palms slathering germs on handrails and people spluttering in elevators.

Sadly, ‘Contagion’ starts to unravel quickly after its opening scenes and it’s a dull experience. The story is split across way too many characters and the plot wears thin fast. Like a murder mystery, there is an investigation to find the murderer, but instead, it’s a case of “Who infected who?” There is zero suspense and due to the shotgun nature of the plot, there is never enough time to invest emotionally with the characters.

The cast is great on paper but they have nothing to do. It’s like inviting the world’s best chefs over to your house and getting them to put together a 1000 piece puzzle. Talent like Damon, Lawrence Fishburne, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston and Kate Winslet are all wasted. Like Soderberg’s ‘Ocean’s 11’ films, it feels like an excuse for the talent to hang out, instead of making a film.

2011 has been a fantastic year for movie scoring and Cliff Martinez provides one the best with his score for ‘Contagion’. Never overshadowing the film, the music beats below the surface and actually gives people something good to say about ‘Contagion’.

‘Contagion’ will infect your senses with boredom. A prescription of coffee or a stiff drink is best advised before and after viewing.

1.5/5

‘Contagion’ is now showing in Australian cinemas.

The Popcorn Junkie

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