Film Review: Contagion

Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion is a disturbingly plausible experiment. The film is successful because it is able to sustain a sense of tension throughout.

A woman returns from Hong Kong via Chicago feeling ill with flu-like symptoms. A man collapses on a bus in Tokyo, and a young model is found dead in her London hotel. These three and other people are displaying similar symptoms of a deadly illness that is spreading throughout the world. The CDC sends doctors across the globe to try and contain the outbreak…

Contagion is very timely in its release. After the various outbreaks in the last few years, Soderbergh’s film explores the potential outcomes if such an illness did spread globally. Although people have died from outbreaks such as swine flu, these have been contained to certain areas and casualties have been relatively low in number. What Contagion does is amplify fears of the worse case scenarios in these type of cases.

The film takes place in various different locations, reflecting just how global a crisis it is. The different stories work well overall, with writer Scott Z. Burns attempting to exhibit different aspects to such an outbreak. Contagion works on the personal civilian level, with stories such as Mitch and his family, as well as on a wide scale, focusing on one of the CDC’s main players. Some of these strands are given more depth and duration than others, which is a necessary format. All the stories appear realistic, even the blogger’s strand is plausible given the freedom and power of the internet.

The tone of Contagion is almost unrelentingly serious. This is necessary in order to sustain tension. There are a couple of moments in the film which are rather soppy, but Contagion delivers a stark atmosphere more generally. There are moments in the film which are chilling; the automated telephone options being the most memorable of these.

Contagion boasts an excellent cast, and performances are solid for the most part. Laurence Fishburne is well cast as Dr Cheever, while Matt Damon is believable as Mitch. Jude Law is rather hammy as blogger Alan, but others such as Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Ehle deliver strong performances.

With the themes of the film being matched by the sober palette, Soderbergh’s film has a distinctive feel. Contagion is a very competent film, even if it is likely to bring out Howard Hughes tendencies in viewers.

Contagion Trailer

Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion boasts quite a cast, which includes Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Jude Law. The film is about a virus that spreads rapidly amongst the population. Considering the bird flu and swine flu scares in recent years, Contagion is certainly timely. The film is out in UK cinemas on 21st October 2011.

Film Review: Repo Men

If you are looking for a fast-paced violent thriller, and do not mind too much about originality, Repo Men is probably the film for you. If, however, you are expecting something more than this, you will most likely be disappointed by the end of this film.

Set in the near future, Remy, played by Jude Law, is works for a company that creates artificial organs. Along with partner Jake (Forest Whitaker), Remy repossess the organs of those who default on their payments. It is only after Remy has a heart replacement himself that he starts to have a conscious about what he and his partner do for a living…

The premise of the film is really quite interesting, until you realise how close it is to Repo! The Genetic Opera. Furthermore, elements of a number of other films appear to be present. Shots of the futuristic metropolis are immediately reminiscent of Blade Runner, whilst some of the technology can be likened to Total Recall.

Overall, the film imbues a feeling of technophobia. Like the aforementioned Blade Runner, as well as The Terminator and Brazil, there is a real sense of the ‘evil corporation’. Repo Men would, in fact, not be out of place with these mid- to early-1980s films. With a 2010 release, however, the ideas the film projects seem a little outdated.

Repo Men is an entertaining enough film, if it is not taken seriously. The action scenes well executed by director Miguel Sapochnik, and the performances are adequate. Furthermore, the soundtrack works well, using a range of songs from different eras to accompany at times disjointed scenes. The main problem with the film is that it is very much a case of ‘seen it all before’.