Contagion is about the terrifying prospect of a pandemic deadly disease outbreak, with an impact similar in scale to the 1918 Spanish Flu which killed at least 3% of the global population.
There’s some fine performances from a stellar cast, including Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, and Marion Cotillard.
So with such a great cast, a global setting, and a fascinating subject, why was Contagion so underwhelming?
For me, it was this - for a story portraying a catastrophic global event it felt somewhat under-dramatised (for a change). The outbreaks of rioting and general lawlessness as desperation took hold came a little too late in the timeline. I may be being pessimistic about our fellow mankind, but I’d expect society to start to break down much earlier than it does in Contagion.
There’s far too many self-centred people in this world. Gone are the days when people would pull together as a community like during the blitz in the East End of London. It seems like today it would only take a shortage of Plasma TV’s for cities to resemble Beirut circa 1978.
Look what happens each Black Friday in the US, or when there’s the rumours of fuel shortages in the UK, or simply during Christmas shopping. Imagine then, what it would be like if there were shortages of something really important, such as food or medical supplies. It would be every man for himself. Furthermore, imagine what it would be like in the US, with 35% of households possessing a gun. It would be like scenes from Escape from New York.
All of this is portrayed in Contagion but it felt somewhat flat. It’s certainly not a thriller. Contagion is a slow, meticulous drama which focuses on the technicalities faced by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US and the World Health Organisation (WHO). At times it felt more like a documentary than an exciting edge-of-the-seat thriller about the fight to save mankind.
Contagion is good enough as 106 mins of though-provoking entertainment, but it could have been so much better. In fact, I reckon Outbreak is a better movie.