contagion | movie review

Posted on January 16, 2012

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Contagion has an impressive cast list and a promising story, and should be an impressive movie. However there is one problem – and it’s name is Soderburgh!
For me Steven Soderbergh’s finest hour was Traffic [or possible his brilliant remake of the Russian classic Solaris], however everything else he’s done is pretty average. I was sorely disappointed by Che, which should have been powerful movies and an insight into one of recent history’s more interesting figures.
The idea behind Contagion is pretty stright-forward: a ruthless highly contagious virus is rampantly spreading across the globe. I’d like to report that Contagion is a manifestation of our worst fears realised in a powerful, disturbing, unsettling way.
Alas – it is not.
Laurence Fishburne, plays the director of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and has to rush his team to try and work out the what, where, how, why and when of the virus. His main researcher, Kate Winslet, is on the frontline and is probably the best thing about the movie. Along for the ride [albeit a short one] is Gwyneth Paltrow [wife of…] Matt Damon [lost here] and Jude Law as an Aussie blogger.
For the most part we’re just watching people getting infected and scientists looking confused. That’s all there is to say really. It doesn’t really develop at all beyond people get sick – people die. There’s no real tension or any characters to really care about. It’s just… meh! It’s slow and nothing much really happens. Someone said that “If it was a heart rate monitor it would be almost flat, no pulse.” I’d have to agree.

The thing that upsets me though about ‘end of civilisation’ movies of this ilk, is how quickly Hollywoodised [new word] moviemakers assume society will disintegrate into looting and selfish acts of violence, trampling over small children and old ladies to grab the last biscuit barrel in the supermarket. Why is that?
It seems to me that in times of natural disaster or war, people rally together to help one another – rather than to destroy one another. I know there are pockets of society where the humanity gene seems to have been bypassed, but generally I don’t think [i hope and pray] that we’re not all like that.
So I think the most important question this movie asks is: “What would we do?”.
Would we help one another in this kind of emergency, how much would we be willing to put on the line? Or would we just sit helpless waiting and hoping to be rescued?
There would probably be people praying for God to help us in our time of need, and for Him to help others. But prayer must be followed with actions. If you pray for the homeless and disaffected in your city, then ask God to help you do something for the homeless and disaffected in your city. If you have a neighbour who is ill and needs someone to get some food in for them. You have 2 options: 1) you could pray that God sends someone to help them… or 2) you could just help them! Surely that’s God sending YOU to help them!!
So while we wait for a deadly global virus to strike in which we will be tested to our limits to help one another in our time of need… why wait? There are already people in need!

Now please wash your hands…

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