Review: "Contagion": Minneapolis faces instant social collapse in latest Hollywood portrayal of martial law!
SPOILER ALERTS! -- Plagued man (lower left) staggers off bus at Lake & Lyndale; Paltrow croaks at Fairview University Medical Center; MDH painted as buffoons; Matt Damon defends saddest Minnesota XMas ever w/ shotgun & sweaters!
Snagged advance tickets to Steven Soderbergh's A-List disease disaster flick "Contagion." Rumpled but sagacious institutions going through the motions make for a dour rhythm & pacing. Overall it resembles a video news release designed to make us feel comfortable with lining up for shots at the FEMA/Red Cross center -- that's the whole catharsis at the end basically. Thanks to Cryptogon for the tip on this film!
But weirdly, a whole vision of wintertime midwest social collapse goes down in my general neighborhood -- Minneapolis to the Martial Law-lockdown Wisconsin border!
The Minneapolis Armory downtown is transformed into a pandemic doomcenter!
It's kind of an initiation into USNORTHCOM CONPLAN 2591 for Dummies: Line up You Crazed Minnesotans! It's NCIS: Team Bacteria, basically plodding dialogue rarely gets any humor catharsis.
It's too bad this stolid film could have been so sardonic – come on, with Fargo you've got a real Minnesota film. Even though few shots except say the downtown Armory actually appeared to be shot here. Still, the blue light & Thanksgiving-Xmas interval of complete doom bore the mark of a dark winter experience. Still this film needed humor -- they just couldn't put much in at all.
Quickly in Minnesota, panic and total social collapse sets in at martial food distribution ops and the grocery store.
Army trucks all over downtown in the morning hours:
Martial law is setup at the Minnesota/Wisconsin border -- closed by the Wisconsin National Guard. Not filmed in Stillwater but should have been. I actually made a sketch of similar Wi/Mn border bridge freakout one time -- this film has it all!
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) deserves far more credit than the obligatory "baffled public official" exposition scene. They're actually very good at tracing outbreaks -- E Coli strains in industrial food for example -- but get zero credit really. Except for a You-Betcha-Bubble-Suit-Next-to-Mass-Graves type moment.
No one is really portrayed solving things cleverly except Fishburne's people. Will this look kind of like a Duck-And-Cover propaganda film in 50 years? "Cheating" or taking risks bending the rules is peculiarly rewarded -- i.e scientist with Biohazard Level 3 lab still finds the virus growth medium after they try ordering him to shut down.
Jude Law is a pigeonholed as conspiracy disease blogger and you never ultimately see if he's a shady fear profiteer. By the end he's painted as vaguely pitching profitable homeopathic cure for a possible hedge fund payoff. The hedge fund turns him in to Homeland Security. Doesn't make sense. He's left filming silently people lining up at a Red Cross/FEMA arena as they peacefully await shots like lambs.
Even as masked pillagers go through "suburban Minneapolis" in no sense are neighbors considered to be banding together in Minnesota -- though in China a whole village tries to hold the health scientist Cotillard hostage for vaccines.
It felt like there'd been battles over the script. Something about the way that the plots were stubbed out...
Adjuvants get a mention as needed to really get the immune response kicked into action. Delicious thimerosol win! (of course high levels of gross damaging adjuvants are needed because frequently vaccines are weak failsauce)
Just-in-time commercial inventory spells direct social fail: Surprise! I felt like the kind of preparation which local organization like the U of M's top notch Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy which advises better supply chain strategies during dangerous pandemics. The pandemic supply chain fail basically leads straight to pandemonium in Minnesota.
There's no real sense of proper preparation -- a lack of creativity here. Actor Bryan Cranston as the military guy was pretty good.
-- the crucial clue on Paltrow's camera -- Damon finally notices month later. Seriously they never found this earlier?
-- if they point out that fatality level from malnutrition is variable to nutrition, they could have promoted vitamin D but didn't
-- You get vaccinated == Arm Band seemed like prescripting or an introduction, as well as catharsis in plot!
-- At least no one gets chipped (altho vaccine fans will point out you can hide unique signatures in vaccine fluid)
-- No real 'mitigating' approach - be it neighborhood security radio or taking more vitamins -- no one is really creative outside of the government
-- Dr. Sanjay Gupta - CNN, NBC/Comcast KARE 11 are the media snippets. Gupta mediates the Fishburne/Law throwdown between CDC & Conspiracybloggers.
-- Chinese cooks hug western executive while greasy with pig guts fresh from the Chinese interior.
-- People coughing in the theater are scary!
-- Big FEMA Red Cross polite line of vaccine recipients is the catharsis "landing" basically
I didn't bother to stick around and look at the thank-yous to see who was involved in production. The way that it feels like you're mainly plodding, tumbling through the CDC's cogs reminded me of another similar film The Next Three Days wherein Russell Crowe triggers off similar National Security machinations. Hell the new Transformers movie has the military as a major character collectively. It just doesn't make the stories move along to cover all these institutions and their fictionally presented wonderful operations.
This site is promoted on the trailer -- it doesn't even mention Minneapolis after all this trouble!
Matt Damon gits a shotgun which weirdly wasn't looted from his neighbors -- while the food was.
Chicago gets the martial law treatment like the FEMA Region V headquarters it is.
Homeland Security Guy always seems like a douche but He Means Well.
Dimitri Martin handles yr viruses
I think this scene was cut? Or was I not paying attention.
Obligatory red blooming map
That about covers it. I always wash my hands and try to avoid touching my face. Minnesota is kind-of used to this stuff so I rather resent we are now portrayed as the exemplars of public panic!