Contagion Movie Review
Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston.
When you look at these names, the names of these absolutely stellar actors, and find out that they are all going to be titled in the same credits; that they are all going to be acting together in the same movie – but not just any movie! – a movie on a global scale, showcasing the panic and paranoia that comes from the worst (fictional) virus epidemic in modern history; when you discover this movie, a movie that critics have praised as “smart” and “scary,” you can’t help but be excited for it. You have to see it.
This movie was Contagion.
And it was the worst film I have seen all year.
The basic premise of Contagion is that there is a virus outbreak in Hong Kong, which infects Paltrow’s character – who is on a business trip – in the very beginning. She is one of the first to be infected. From the time she lands in Hong Kong, to the time she comes home to the U.S., everyone she touches – and everyone that touches what she touched – becomes infected as well, and the virus quickly spreads, killing every one-in-four people. To stop this outbreak, all the different world governments must work together in a race to find a cure or a vaccine before it’s too late. In concept, this sounds like an excellent idea for a movie – and it very well could have been! After all, the TV show 24 did virus epidemics in at least two of its eight seasons, and pulled them off with much success.
Unfortunately, Contagion did not.
In this reviewer’s opinion, the thing that hurt this movie the most was the main draw for audiences – the cast. There were too many characters. Matt Damon was set up to be the main character in the film, but honestly I did not feel that there was a main character. Each actor received more or less the same screen time – which is great in theory – but when you divvy up an hour and forty-five minutes between seven characters, each of which have their own stories, it begins to feel spread thin. Each actor did a fine job, of course (save for Damon’s emotionless character), but none of them got to shine. There was no “star.” As Bilbo says, it was “like butter scraped over too much bread.”
The result is what appears to be inconsequential scene after inconsequential scene after inconsequential scene, all strung together with the idea of this highly contagious and deadly virus, of which the main character themselves know nothing about. Everything they come up with as a solution or theory is nothing but guess and conjecture, which is fine to begin with, but we do not need four different organizations telling us they don’t know what’s going on or how to fix it throughout the entirety of the film. Throw in some very random scenes and turn of events that have nothing to do with the overall plot, and a largely unsatisfying conclusion, and you have the movie Contagion.
I wish I could say there were any redeeming parts about this film – anything at all that would make me say, “Even though it has its flaws, you should really see this movie for x reason,” but I simply cannot. In my opinion, there is no redeeming quality of this film. The characters are forgettable (half the time I was wondering why some of them were even a part of the story), the plot is boring, and the music is surprisingly generic (consisting mostly of techno-beats and rhythms, what little there was).
I am greatly disappointed that this film did not live up to its reputation. I was very much looking forward to it, and I tried my very best to enjoy it, but it was a pain to endure.
And movies should never be a chore to watch.
Final Verdict: 2 out of 10 stars.