Yes, Contagion has a high powered ensemble cast starring Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, and Jude Law, among others, but the plot is not the most original. In fact, the story line is pretty linear: An epidemic of some unknown disease is killing people faster than scientists and doctors can find a cure. Derivative storyline aside, Contagion is a pretty solid film. It introduces the onset of the illness through an “index patient”, which is played quite well by Gwyneth Paltrow. She travels to Hong Kong on business while her husband, played by Matt Damon, stays behind with her son. What happens after Paltrow’s character returns from Hong Kong is what draws the audience in: Paltrow’s character is carrying the unknown virus and it is spreading rapidly. Through painstaking work, the virus is identified by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, led by Laurence Fishburne’s character, Dr. Cheever. Medical teams and disease centers around the world unite to try and find a vaccine. As the media circus and worldwide panic grows, Contagion reveals a deeper story about the world of medicine and the individuals who often don’t get the recognition they deserve considering the crucial work they do saving lives.
Contagion gives special attention to the pivotal role organizations like the CDC and World Health Organization play in protecting human life from viruses and other deadly illnesses. The film does an outstanding job at illustrating the sacrifices that doctors and medical researchers make in order to protect people they don’t even know; people like you and me. Simultaneously, the film’s writers are conscious of government corruption and the inherent lack of fairness in medical treatment for people who may not have the money or social status to obtain it easily. In addition, Contagion manages to call attention to the frenzy that blogs can create in a time of chaos. In one scene, a well-respected physician calls blogging “graffiti” simply disguised as journalism. In this movie, even blogging is as infectious as a virus and can cause a great deal of harm worldwide, akin to an epidemic.
Although there were a few unanswered questions in this film that left me wanting more, I would not miss it if I were you. It is worth seeing in the movie theater and is an impetus for deep thought about the fragility of human life and the potential limitations and stresses on modern medicine.