Posted by: David Stewart | September 7, 2011

"Contagion" – Good science but inhuman

It’s not if, but when. This is the warning which appears at the very end of the credits of Contagion, a movie which opens in US theaters on Friday. Those credits include a long list of agencies and experts with PhDs, endorsing the science of the movie.

So what will likely go down when the human race encounters its next brand new super contagious virus?

The scientists are heroic and are universally willing to break the rules if necessary to save lives, even sometimes at the cost of their own.

The villains are ignorant non-scientists, those who would profit monetarily or in fame from the disaster.

And in spite of the global impact of the disease, an effort is made to understand the impact of losing a loved one in a single family.

If you are a runner, congratulations. Staying in shape probably helps your survival rate. Hopefully.

There are some terrific performances, like Matt Damon as the grieving husband of "patient zero". Our rock-hard short-haired Matt who ably played cold warrior Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity and sequels is here a frumpy, tousled Dad dealing with a dead wife and a daughter who wants to live, even though just being face-to-face with a boy could end her life prematurely.

I also loved Kate Winslet’s turn as a CDC official, who fights bureaucracy and the virus with equal strength.

But despite Contagion’s credible science and globe-trotting camera, it fails to develop the human angle. The human race reacts to global catastrophe with predictable gloom and rage, but nobody seems able to rise above their superstitions. There is no spiritual discussion contemplated for the potential end of the world as we know it. A pity.


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