Full review available at the Herald.

Yeah, that headline isn’t a joke. I really do love “lethal virus threatens society as we know it” movies. It’s a serious contender for my favorite subgenre, right up there with “alien fleet threatens society as we know it” and “natural disaster threatens society as we know it.” I might have some hostility issues? Well, what can you do.

Besides watch Hollywood’s Contagion! That’s good transition. While many breakdown-of-society stories like 28 Days Later keep the focus on a single character of family’s efforts to survive the chaos, Contagion, much like 2012, takes a broader view. Family man Matt Damon is the stand-in for the guy on the street; wife Gwyneth Paltrow dies within the first minutes, evoking cheers across the internet and leaving Damon to try to protect his surviving daughter from disease. Most of the movie is about the CDC and WHO’s efforts to track down the virus’ source, identify its characteristics, and create a vaccine.

The result is a race against two things: the clock, and a force of nature that could mutant at any time. Even more horrifying, however, is Steven Soderbergh’s relentless illustration that we’re all totally boned against infection and the only chance of staying healthy is to seal yourself in a bubble. A bubble with a lot of machine guns strapped to its sides. Stop touching things, people! You’re going to kill us all!

Contagion doesn’t just have an ensemble cast (you got Bryan Cranston, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes, and Marion Cotillard–oh, and the always-awesome Enrico Colantoni), it’s got an ensemble plot. Some of its threads are stronger than others, but they work great as a whole, building to a disturbingly plausible and pleasingly comprehensive look at how something we can’t see could threaten everything we’ve built together.

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