Movie Review

Contagion also known as “Fertőzés”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing content and some language.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Action Thriller Psychological Drama IMAX
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2011
USA Release:
September 9, 2011 (wide—3,100+ theaters)
DVD: January 3, 2012
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

loss of loved ones

death in the Bible

plagues in the Bible

humanity in peril

pandemic / lethal global epidemic / fast-spreading, fatal, contagious airborne viral disease outbreak

race against time

searching for cure

quarantines

Pain and suffering

How did bad things come about? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

What kind of world would you create? Answer

Hope

hope

Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Discover God’s promise for all people—told beautifully and clearly from the beginning. Discover The HOPE! Watch it on-line, full-length motion picture.

using animals in scientific research

adultery

divorce

Featuring: Matt DamonThomas Emhoff
Marion CotillardDr. Leonora Orantes
Bryan Cranston … Haggerty
Kate WinsletDr. Erin Mears
Gwyneth PaltrowBeth Emhoff
Jude LawAlan Krumwiede
Laurence FishburneDr. Ellis Cheever
Elliott Gould
more »
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Producer: Warner Bros. Pictures
Participant Media
Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ
Double Feature Films
Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ
Regency Enterprises
more »
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Nothing spreads like fear.”

Trillions of germs teem our world, from handshakes to busses. We’re often their carriers and transporters, but it’s easy to ignore this, since they’re an invisible part of our hectic lives. In the film, “Contagion” a worldwide viral outbreak starts with something so simple, but ends up killing millions. Filled with a strong ensemble cast, the film proceeds to show what might happen if another pandemic were to spread.

Any potential viewers looking for a high-action thriller will likely be bored; “Contagion” is more of a mental thriller. It aims to be realistic to the core, so there aren’t any dramatic rescues or a hero who saves all. The main character and antagonist is the rapidly mutating virus itself. This makes the film have a potent effect, of what might happen if an epidemic were to strike. It awakens the notion of how small the world really is and how many people we actually come in contact with, all the while mindlessly touching our faces.

Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) was simply returning from a business trip to Hong Kong. Having a layover flight in Chicago, she secretly has an affair with a former flame, before returning home to her son and husband, Mitch (Matt Damon). Things take a drastic turn for the worse when she begins convulsing on the kitchen floor. Mitch rushes her to the hospital, but she dies soon afterwards. Her autopsy sends up red flags, and other deaths worldwide soon make CDC aware of the fatal connections.

Leading the investigation is Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne). He and his medical team aim to find the origin of the virus and possibly create a vaccine. While this can take several months to a year, the virus swiftly kills its victims. Fully claiming government conspiracies in his blog is Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law). Alan claims to have found a natural cure, and his blog followers increase by the millions. He also boldly states that the government knows of this cure, but continues to deny it in order to avoid pharmaceutical companies an exorbitant monetary loss.

With both sides claiming to have the truth, the movie does a pretty decent job showing each side. Would the government really deny a proven homeopathic cure? Or is rushing a briefly-studied vaccination more of a careless, selfish endeavor by the government to appease the public outrage? While one side is shown to be more villainous, at the end, strong points are still made and would make for a good discussion.

“Contagion” is one of the cleaner thrillers to come out. There aren’t any sex scenes, with the affair only hinted at through a phone conversation. Beth’s former boyfriend introduces himself as the man who just had sex with her. Near the end of the conversation, he advises Beth to use a more secure email address. The violence is more on the mild side. There are several scenes of looting, and mobs pushing each other aside, in order to get supplies. One of Mitch’s neighbors gets shot; however, only flashes of light are shown, with the armed men leaving soon afterwards.

The vulgarity/profanity is around the ten mark with 1 ‘f’ word, 6 sh_t, etc. One sexual reference is made about someone getting a “hard on” from researching the virus. Several people are shown having seizures and foaming at the mouth; the camera lingers on their blank stares. One of the characters is shown in a body bag about to be placed in a massive grave. Though not morally wrong, there is one scene which made me cringe a bit. A portion of Beth’s autopsy is shown; after the coroner drills into her skull, her forehead skin is pulled over her face. Afterwards, a small amount of blood squirts onto the medical examiner. The autopsy ends soon after this.

This film approaches the subject of an outbreak with a completely secular view, and I believe this to be the film’s biggest downfall. With their loved ones dying all around them, no one turns to God or even to an unknown higher power. Even atheists or agnostics might pray in sheer desperation, in hopes that someone is listening. Who else can conquer death but the Lord himself? (Hebrews 2:9). Death is sadly a part of life, with no one being promised a tomorrow. I’ve been by the bedsides of brothers and sisters in Christ, singing hymns as they seek rest within the peace and love of Christ. Though some have died, this world is only temporary, and Christians can set their eyes on the unseen beauty of eternity with Christ. In 2 Corinthians 4:18, it reads:

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

“Contagion” is definitely not the first film to deal with a infectious outbreak; I’d say, however, that it’s the most realistic that I’ve seen. While some might find it boring or anticlimactic, I found it highly impacting. The film lingered in my mind a while after my viewing. It might make you think twice about eating food from a high-traffic area or even wondering whose other credit cards your waitress might have touched before yours. I do recommend the film, but don’t go looking for big explosions or a stunt-defying hero.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Contagion is a raw film with a stellar cast. Every actor’s performance is fantastic. Unlike Outbreak (1995), this movie is a bit slower. But, Contagion is more realistic. There are no laughs, no tears, and no real opportunity to get to know any of the characters. As a movie-goer, you are given a snapshot of each person’s life, but no more than that. If you like realistic, conspiratorial, and almost documentary-style films, you’ll love Contagion. No nudity, no alternative life-styles, no drugs/drinking. Mild language (1 f-bomb), mildly graphic (convulsion scenes), mildly violent (some gunplay), and mildly sexually suggestive (talk of adultery.) Because the topic focuses on a disturbing global pandemic, I would discourage taking young teens/kids. Enjoy!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Diana O, age 42 (USA)
Positive—This movie just wowed me and had me thinking about it well into the night, as I was too over stimulated to fall asleep right away. “Contagion” is, in my opinion, a much better movie than past movies about deadly disease epidemics. There is a global sense in how far and wide this fast-moving virus travels and how many people one person could come into contact with and spread the virus to. It really gets you thinking about not only your interaction with other people, but your own personal hygiene habits. I had to use the public restroom after this movie, and let me tell you it made me uncomfortable.

I don’t think this movie is about fear-mongering but making you aware of what a very bad health epidemic looks like.

This movie is ultra-real. I heard that the director and others involved in the movie consulted with doctors and scientists and changed script and other things in the movie, in order to come off as more realistic. It is a very intelligent and well put together movie.

I just want to say that all I could think of as I was watching this movie that it is by the Grace of God that we have not seen an epidemic (in our lifetimes) that took so many lives as this fictitious virus did. Millions upon millions of people died with in a few days from the onset of the first symptoms of this disease.

Besides seeing people looking sick, having seizures, foaming at the mouth and die, there were some scenes I thought were unnecessary, here they are as listed: a very sick man walking down a crowded street and then walking onto traffic and getting hit and killed by a car, an autopsy where the victim’s cap is being opened and their forehead peeled down over their wide opened eyes, a scene where one of the main character witnesses a break-in into his neighbor’s home, where he see and hears guns going off; there are a few scenes that show teenagers trying to make out, and we find out that a man who loves his wife very dearly has been cheated on, and, of course, her lover dies from the disease.

What really did bother me it that other than a character praying to God when she found out she contacted the disease, there were next to no other references about God. We don’t see any religious perspective. We don’t see people sitting in churches praying or people reading the Bible, etc.

However, we do see rioting and looting and social breakdown. It just made me think that without the Lord (and us focusing on him even in the bleakest of situations) life is meaningless. Situations just get worse and worse, hope is not to be found, as Jesus is our one and only hope.

Overall, I would recommend this movie, but with a warning about some of it’s content. I look at this movie as one that is more informative, than entertaining. It is very thought-provoking. If ever you thought lightly of disease outbreaks such as the Swine flu, you won’t continue to think lightly about it after seeing this movie. We are blessed that such a terrible outbreak like the one displayed in this movie has not happened. I pray that it never does, but if it does I know that Jesus will be there with me. I am so grateful for this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ann, age 40 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—Casting call for anyone who can act sick. Me after watching this movie. No, it wasn’t that bad. The biggest problem was there was little or no character development. There was no reason to care if anyone got sick, except for the young girl who gave a terrific performance playing Matt Damon’s daughter. I missed her name, but we’ll be seeing her again. Matt Damon was also good as a bereaving husband and protective father, and Laurence Fishburne gets the other fine performance balancing finding a vaccine and wondering who and when to reveal the severity of a potential outbreak. As the reviewer said, the virus is the star, and director Steven Soderbergh played up that angle well as we watch the virus spread from contact to contact.

And the fear and paranoia factor was believable as the news spread.

The final plus I can give the film is on the morality level. Would you pick and choose who to reveal the danger to for their protection? Would you risk your life by trying an antidote and then expose yourself to someone who’s infected to see if it works? This comes nearest to John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Having said all of that, I still think it would have played better if there was more character development. Give us a reason to care whether these characters live or die.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Jeff Leslie, age 54 (USA)
Neutral—At first, I was not liking this movie, at all, but, towards the end, it got a little better. Still, the very last scene makes a person wonder if the filmmakers wanted us to feel any hope at all. For those of you who want to brave it, be warned: there is an autopsy scene, and it is gross! And for those of you who, like me, were hoping for another “Outbreak”… I recommend just watching that one over again (if you don’t mind the R rating, that is).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Negative
Negative—this movie was boring… I left the movie before it was over. There was really no story line at all… The movie was slow and the scenes were made to fit in the movie but was very disjointed… The movie comes across saying trust the global government through the W.H.O and what big pharma has for you is what will work. Just take what they have prescribed. And, in a subtle way, it says the information you get on the Internet is for kooks and not to be trusted… The powers that be know that the people are catching on to scams such as H1N1 and big pharma. And one more thing… seems rather hurmorous—they put this film out just before flu season
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Tony Andrews, age 48 (Canada)
Comments from young people
Negative—This film was pointless and boring. It was left, I thought, unfinished. In the first 15-20 minutes were the most graphic in the film (if you want to watch it really badly, don’t let that put you off), and some scenes were quite disturbing. In a Christian point of view, the language wasn’t too bad, though there was some. Normally, I watch a film twice and then you can kind of hear if there was any other bad language, but I disliked it so much, I couldn’t be bothered to sit through it again. It is a very fast moving movie.

***SPOILER*** The characters that do die, you don’t get enough time to get attached to them or get time to know them. ***END SPOILER***

Some of the few good points was that the acting was good (an all star cast) and that the language wasn’t so bad. Also, another good thing was that they really do want to help, especially one character in the film. I wouldn’t recommend letting younger children watch it, due to the disturbing scenes I mentioned earlier. I wouldn’t recommend this film, because I didn’t get the point of it, and it was a waste of money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Connie, age 15 (United Kingdom)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—Well, I know you are technically supposed to watch a movie in its entirety, but my husband and I were so disturbed by the way the movie content was treated, we turned it off after the first half hour. Very disturbing and dark. If the reviewer hadn’t classified this as a Sci-Fi, we wouldn’t have chosen it. It is more aptly characterized as a Psychological Drama. I know some folks would like the realism but, since this is a very possible scenario that could one day happen in this age of terrorism, it was a little too realistic for us. We like movies for their escapism and this one hit too close to home. Also, didn’t care for some of the language at the beginning of the movie. We can take some and have but that, in addition to the very intense subject matter, was another determing factor for turning it off. Chose to watch “Moneyball” instead so it ended up being a much more enjoyable evening.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Pam, age 56 (USA)