DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh
May Contain Spoilers!
Firstly, it is nice to say that Steven Soderbergh resisted the urge to make this thriller following a global pandemic’s rampage across the world is to an epic, though his choice to sell this as an IMAX Experience eludes me. The scale is big but the focus is small, dealing with the more intimate effects of such a crisis, likened to the Spanish Flu epidemic of the 1910’s.
But why offer this to us as IMAX fodder?
This film work precisely because is isn’t just another blockbuster, but not to suggest that 1995’s Outbreak, which took this storyline on 20 years ago, was any less, because action packed though Outbreak was, it informed a generation through the mainstream of basically what Ebola was, something with has come in to its own around the time of this film’s initial release.
The promos made this look dark and dire and yes, this is not a light-hearted watch. It has a similar tone to that of his earlier social epic, Traffic (2001), but it is palatable, intelligent and measured, dealing with issues surrounding the epidemic with a realistic eye.
The social breakdown is both extreme and restrained. Whilst looting and crime are way up, the world does not descend into the usual clichéd lawlessness normally attributed to films such as this. This is not a Hollywood disaster movie, rather a commentary of the world today and a reminder that we are not the first generation to deal with such threats.
It is a frightening and bleak look upon the dangers of pandemics but it also attacks the word of blogging or more over, the irresponsible and mostly unregulated state of online media, such and this blog, for example! In this case, it is Jude Law’s cynical and somewhat dastardly blogger/reporter who is using his online outlet to sell his ideas, many of which are false to 12 million users who are playing into his scare-mongering tactics whose aim is to simply make money out of the deadly crisis.
But is this also a veiled attack on the mainstream media who are guilty of the same but on a massive scale? If not Steven, it should be.
The CDCP scenes are clinical, pardon the pun and informative, reiterated to the informed or teaching everybody else the frightening nature of epidemiological formula, as well as the exponential nature of a virus’ ability to consume a population.
In short, this is an interesting study of an outbreak, but is it a classic? Does it offer anything new?
Well, sorry but not really. I liked it but so much of what makes this film work is not original and is reminiscent of so many thrillers like this. Outbreak managed to worm its way into the culture just enough to be a touchstone for so many who have seen it. The notion that Monkey’s are carriers of diseases such as Ebola surly must have come from that movie. But here we just have a solid film, with a great cast and so many stand-out performances backed up by a production crew operating at the same level.