Two things you should know about Contagion, the new film by Steven Soderbergh. One: it is NOT a horror film, despite what Soderbergh says. It is more of a soulless, clinical look at what might happen if the Bird Flu went crazy and attacked a bunch of attractive people. Number Two: Gwyneth Paltrow is in it. A lot. You might think you are safe because you heard she dies in the beginning, but you are not. Like a bad penny, she keeps showing up throughout the damn film. Normally, I would not ever go see a Gwyneth Paltrow film. Much like my well documented aversion to Mr. Shia LaBeouf, I have a similarly strong dislike of Gwyneth Paltrow.
Contagion stars Paltrow, Matt Damon, and Jude Law. It is like The Talented Mr. Ripley only 100% less interesting. Paltrow returns home from a business trip in Hong Kong with a cold. A couple of days later she dies. Then her son dies. Then Matt Damon gets to act really upset about the whole thing. Also, Paltrow was having an affair, a throw-a-way plot point that goes nowhere, much like the rest of this film.
Soon people are dying across the globe, and the CDC, played by Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet, jump into action to try to find a cure. They are joined by Marion Cotillard as the World Health Organization, Jude Law as crazy bloggers, John Hawkes as the everyman, and a bunch of other famous people trying to look worried and/or sick. If this sounds like a Towering Inferno type film then you are correct! Soderbergh said he was going for that kind of vibe with the big name cast. The only problem is that The Towering Inferno was funny/interesting/suspenseful, whereas Contagion looks like a documentary made by someone strung out on Valium. It is that boring.
Every character is pretty annoying. The only slightly interesting one was the crazy blogger played by Jude Law, but I only found him interesting because he wore dentures that made his teeth look really bad and I kept thinking that Jude Law uglies up really well. The pace is off, we don't care about anyone, I was actually rooting for some people to die, and in the end it is all wrapped up with a neat little bow. I am surprised Julia Roberts wasn't in this mess. There are so many good epidemic/end of the world films out there: don't waste your time on this one. It is not scary, it is not suspenseful, and it features a whole lot of Gwyneth Paltrow. Don't say I didn't warn you.