Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
on 23 October 2014
Okay. So in light of the recent Ebola outbreak I just had to rewatch this and I found it quite chilling. This is not your typical Hollywood zombie film, or some other sci-fi epidemic film that infects and possesses people or tuns them into some kind of monsters. Contagion is a film that tries to be realistic in terms of science and medicine, and presents a worst-case pandemic scenario that could actually really happen - if not now, then surely sometime in the future. It shows the fragility and worst enemy of a very inter-connected world, which is the chances for a localized disease to spread across all borders. It also emphasizes how brittle our society is, and how things like this could lead to the complete breakdown of society as we know it, not to forget a global stockmarket collapse and with it, put hundreds of millions of people out of work who, being city-dwellers, obviously do not know how to survive off the land and thus end up turning to crime, looting and violence to establish a new survival-of-the-fittest hierarchy.
What makes the film of interest is the manner in which it portrays scientists and the spread of conspiracy theories during a crisis. Refreshingly, the film comes down solidly on the pro-science end of things; unlike so many other movies that use the stock "evil scientists" personae who cause a disaster due to "playing God" or "researching things man was not meant to know," the scientists in Contagion are ultimately the heroes, developing a working vaccine that ends the pandemic. When they act in a manner that puts people at risk, it is not out of malice, but because they either lack the information they need to do the right thing, or (in one case) because they want to protect their loved ones. They are chiefly good people who simply don't know what to do in the beginning, and their goal is to figure out what they should do and respond accordingly.
The anti-science characters meanwhile engage in deceit in order to push their own agenda and ultimately make themselves rich. This is exemplified with Jude Law's character, Alan Krumwiede. Alan is essentially a Hollywood version of real world radio hosts like Alex Jones, a blogger with an inflated ego who spouts various unsubstantiated allegations about the pandemic, including claims that it was genetically engineered to wipe out most of the human race. His pet theory, however, is that the disease can be cured via a homeopathic remedy that he is promoting (just like various real world bloggers do - see "naturalnews.com"), and making millions off of, through his blog, going as far as to pretend to be sick so that he can "cure" himself with the drug and create false hope among his loyal followers. All the while, he tells people not to get the vaccine for the disease (again, a common thing promoted by real world quacks), claiming that it will make them even sicker. At one point, he goes onto national television and accuses the CDC director (Fishburne's character) of suppressing research into his alternative remedy in order to allow Big Pharma to make more money with their vaccines. Fishburne counters that they have already tested it just to be safe, but (unsurprisingly) got negative results. The film ends with him barely dodging a prison sentence for the fraud he committed, and he winds up discredited and ranting at people who are in line for vaccines.
As expected, for daring to depict alties as anything other than holy and for not giving the CDC and the WHO devil horns and a pitchfork, some of the usual types among the internet are claiming that this film is a Big Pharma/NWO/what-have-you propaganda piece.
Which makes it doubly entertaining. A 4, out of 5 stars.