Contagion follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart.
When the movie starts with Day 2 the first thing you think is: why not start with Day 1? Well, without plot spoiling I will say that the movie eventually gets to Day 1 in a rather interesting place in the film and it explains how everything started, the deadly virus that is.
So the movie jumps right in with its story and plot. We learn that a deadly virus is striking across the world, from Hong Kong to London to San Francisco to Chicago. Enter Ellis Cheever (Lawrence Fishburne), the director of Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Joining him is Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) and CDC doctor Erin Mears (Kate Winslet), who heads to Minneapolis. She investigates the sudden and mysterious death of Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), who returned from a business trip to Hong Kong and went into seizures and quickly died. Beth’s husband, Mitch (Matt Damon), is devastated when he is told she is gone and reacts with shock as he asks, “Can I see her now?”
Misinformation is spread and one man wants his fifteen minutes of fame during this panic-filled time. I was amazed to learn how large some populations in the world really are and how that a deadly virus could sure cause major world problems. For example, Tokyo, Japan, has a population of 36.6 million and a section of Hong Kong contains 2.1 million. San Francisco has 3.5 million. One section of China is over 40 million. So you get the idea. Any virus spreading like wild fire would cause great panic.
One doctor dies in the film which, like the disease, happens quickly and unexpectedly. But though the story is pretty well directed it moved around to various subplots and it was difficult to sympathize as much as one would like with some of the characters.
At any rate, there are some utterances of strong language in the movie, a strong scene of an autopsy and a scalp being sawed, and a candid sexual comment so we are unable to award this film our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.