Gwyneth Paltrow: Patient Zero. Beth Emhoff (Paltrow) catches some unknown disease while on a business trip to Hong Kong and brings it back home to the States. It has begun.
Contagion marks Mr. Versatile himself, Steven Soderbergh’s, first foray into the world of pandemic thrillers and, as expected, he does a very classy job of scaring the bejesus out of us. Cough or sneeze halfway through and you, too, will fear for your life.
Also, notable, however is the severe lack of dramatic progression. There’s undoubtedly drama but, as the days tick by, the momentum doesn’t. This may be due, in part, to the ensemble storytelling spreading the tension too thin. Soderbergh covers at least half a dozen stories, each from a different perspective and each affected differently by the virus.
This is somewhat compensated for by the impressive cast. With a DVD cover boasting Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Paltrow and Kate Winslet, there’s a lot of talent on show here and Soderbergh directs them well.
So, all in all, Contagion is a solid, and occasionally terrifying, portrait of a world on the brink of collapse. Ideally, I would have liked to have seen a little more of that collapse, but maybe that would have been one grim step too far.