Director – Steven Soderbergh
Warner Brothers – 108 minutes
Firstly watching this was a very last minute decision and the premise is not something I would be immediately drawn to .However I had a spare 2 hours free and had been online discussing some of the movie highlights of 2012 and this film was brought up (Cheers DL) , so I grabbed it and away I went .
I knew very little about the film before watching it , but the first thing you notice is a very strong cast made up of many of *household* names , including Jude Law , Matt Damon , Gwyneth Paltrow , Lawrence Fishbone , Kate Winslett and Elliott Gould to mention a few . Also there are a huge amount of unaccredited actors that are recognisable in many background scenes .
Its rather difficult reviewing this as there is so much going on worldwide , a large cast and I could give so many spoilers – so here is a short condensed summary and review .
The story starts with Beth (Paltrow) returning from a trip to Hong Kong , the following day she has flu like symptoms that result in her having seizures . Her husband Mitch (Damon) rushes her to hospital where she has another seizure and dies . Upon returning home Mitch finds that his step-son has also died .Mitch is then placed in isolation but seems to be immune to the disease .
Various montages show people with similar symptoms from cities around the world and we now have a race against time with members of the World Health Organisation and Centre for Disease Control desperately trying to find a cure while cases around the globe multiply and an alarming rate.
You get a real feeling of at first panic when you realise just how widespread and deadly the virus is becoming , and then despair and futility when society starts to break down and we see looting , crime and mass graves .
The film manages to link different stories that are all interwoven really well , we have the father surviving and trying to protect his daughter , the WHO and CDC desperately trying to find a cure , the blogger (Jude Law) who announces he has a cure but are there ulterior motives ? And also the small Chinese village that is just trying to survive .
This is almost filmed in an almost documentary fashion which gives you a feeling that this could be real and could be now .
I loved the slow pace and the lack of character development , but there are flaws aplenty however they do not take much away from what is a claustrophobic film about 7 billion people that could be on the verge on extinction .
For me the standout scene has to be after Beth has died she is on a gurney and two doctors take out the skull saw and proceed to remove the top of Beth’s skull . The flaps of scalp are peeled back to reveal the exposed brain . You don’t know how long I have waited or how many times I have wished to see this (not a Paltrow fan) . For me the film could have finished then and I would have been a very happy man J
A good watch but for me nothing special , with a cast and director like this I would have expected a little bit more .