Contagion poster

Right now, as you read this, you’re probably at your computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other device that allows you to connect to the Internet. Now, when was the last time you cleaned that device? If it’s your phone, it’s covered in germs and bacteria; it’s disgusting. Every day you touch a thousand different things that are covered in bacteria, and then you touch your face. Little facts like these make watching Contagion turn into a hypochondriac’s nightmare.



Dwight Schrute finally gets his wish, as a new disease begins spreading faster than the CDC can possibly imagine. Contagion follows the stories of multiple people and how the deadly virus personally affects them. Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet lead the CDC’s investigation and search for the origin of the virus. Marion Cotillard and Chin Han (the Chinese guy in The Dark Knight) represent the WHO in Hong Kong, the believed site of origin. Meanwhile, commoner Matt Damon is the only immune person—as far as we know— and he spends the entire movie either mourning the death of his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) or protecting his daughter.

With Steven Soderbergh at the helm, the potential for rapid, pulse-pounding action is always present. Here, the action is more subdued, but the soundtrack is so intense you can basically hear your heartbeat in your ears. Composer Cliff Martinez brings the beat and never relents. Only after reaching the final fifteen minutes do you realize the entire movie could have been incredibly boring without his score.

Contagion - 1

In a way, this is most impressive feat of Contagion. Yes, the film seems to showcase how a new, uncontrollable epidemic would be handled in the modern world. Soderbergh captures that fairly well. However, the fact that the events are relatively mundane is made irrelevant by the music and your own fear of catching the slightest cold.

The film flies from scene to scene until the final sequences and then comes to a screeching halt. Only then do you begin to think about how interminably long the film is, even at 106 minutes, and how painfully slow the ending is conducted. This emotion is compounded by the fact that the ending is shockingly dull. Soderbergh and writer Scott Burns are clearly trying to make a point about the efficiency and honorable nature of government organizations—or lack thereof—but the final scene cements the film’s blasé conclusion.


The first eighty or so minutes are well executed. The multiple storyline arc is crucial to the film’s entertainment value and ensures plot progression. If not for the precipitous fall taken in the final act, Contagion could have been a solid, must-watch thriller. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must bathe in Purell for an hour.

    • meg murphy
    • June 14th, 2013

    HaHa! thanks for saving me the trouble of wearing my “man from Michelin” suit to the theatre….

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