I say this with the greatest amount of respect for my fellow reviewers and to all of our readers who are probably going to vehemently disagree with me:
With this film, director Stephen Soderbergh takes material that is ripe for exploitation and histrionics and he presents it in a very clinical, low-key fashion and the result is a draggy film that takes itself way too seriously. Seriously, if you’re going to end the world, have some fun with it.
Soderbergh assembles an impressive cast and then he pretty much just strands them out in the middle of nowhere. I appreciate the fact that the director and the cast are trying to keep things rooted in reality but oh my God, the reality here is so boring. Most of the cast does an okay job but Jennifer Ehle, who plays one of the scientists looking for a cure, gives such an annoyingly mannered performance that watching her was like listening to some little kid running around in squeaky shoes. Seriously, if I had to hear one more artfully placed stammer from her, I was going to scream.
Finally, this is yet another film where the villain is a blogger. I mean, he’s even English, that’s how evil Jude Law’s blogger is. I mean, I’m sorry that all the old folks out there are so threatened by the Internet but this blogger-as-villain trend is just petty.
With its all-star cast and its pretensions towards being an “important film,” Contagion should have been a fun, tawdry little romp. It should have been like a 21st Century Airport or Towering Inferno. Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburne should have been having an adulterous affair. 2nd-rate television actors should have been dropping like flies. There should have been melodramatic music and dialogue like, “Excuse me, did you say the nurse was conducting the operation?”
In short, Contagion should have been fun.
Unfortunately, it’s not.