What if there was a virus that can spread around the world in a few months and can cause death in a matter of a couple days? There are plenty of those right now, but we have vaccines for them. What if we didn’t? The 2011 film Contagion explores this ‘what if’.
It explores this first and foremost from the perspective of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a few of its doctors (Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet included). This is the major U.S. government run agency that is responsible for these situations.
The film also looks at it from the perspective of an immune widower (Matt Damon) who lost his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) soon after her return from a business trip to Hong Kong (and her secret sexual affair during layover on the way back). Later that day he lost his young stepson.
Finally, the film also follows a professional conspiracy blogger (Jude Law) and his opinions on the virus and how it is being handled by the government.
This film really gets the viewer thinking about what he/she would do if this really happened. Because it approaches the concept in such a believable way (unlike The Day After Tomorrow, et al.), it really has the ability to scare you. How would you handle these situations? What would you do? I was more affected by the chaos that ensued when quarantines were set up than by the effects of the disease itself. Fear can lead people to do desperate things.
Contagion really digs into the politics and the procedures that take place behind the scenes in government. Everyone wants a say and this leads to inefficiency and slow-flowing information. It is fascinating, yet unnerving.
Contagion is a good film covering a scary topic. There are a few graphic scenes (an autopsy and the dying people) and a little language that would prevent me from showing a younger kid (who would probably be bored anyway), but otherwise this is a clean film. Contagion runs 106 minutes and is rated PG-13. I give it 8 ramheads out of 10.