Saturday, 31 March 2012


Perhaps watching this on a plane flying from London to New York is not the best thing? Steven Soderbergh's direction gives the film his usual strong visual signature which is enhanced by a heavy-weight cast who all contribute well to this ensemble piece.

This film could have been over spectacular or simply have had the feel of a docu-drama. However, it delivers a compelling dramatic representation of what an out of control virus rampaging across the globe might look like. Although it's a global problem it is of course the Americans who come to the rescue.

A deadly virus which kills in days emerges onto the world stage of global communications where people spread it faster than the media and health authorities can track it. A team of specialists from around the world are convened to tackle the problem as the death toll continues to rise dramatically. At one point the USA even runs out of body bags having to borrow some from Canada.

I won't spoil the plot for you except to say that the gravitas given to the film by the ensemble cast keeps the story moving at an even pace. Laurence Fishburne turns in a particularly fine performance as Dr Cheever - and it's always nice to see Kate Winslet.

What the story does raise is how easily something like this can happen in today's global village. We have already faced it with Bird Flu and H1N1 but by comparison with the virus in the film they were less potent although those sadly affected will still feel their full force. The film raises some interesting topics such as:

  • how do 'the authorities' prioritise those to be vaccinated first;
  • how much of the endeavour ro find a vaccine and manufacture enough to vaccinate the world is driven by philanthropy or profit;
  • the place of sacrifice for a higher cause;
  • the importance of a free press unconstrained by government;
  • the importance of hope;
  • how a crisis like this brings out the best and the worst in humanity.

I felt that this was a thoughtful, measured and reflective piece of cinema and would commend it whole-heartedly. My only proviso is to suggest avoid watching it when you're on a plane! I'll give it 7.5/10.

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