In this age of fast trains, supersonic planes and electric automobiles, in just a few weeks this nameless, indiscriminate, relentless and invisible virus has killed millions. Just to add a touch of reality to the already scary proceedings, Soderbergh and writing partner Scott Z. Burns, dutifully remind us of other more quaint viruses, including the Spanish Flu, which almost a century ago wiped out 50 million people, one fifth of the world's population at the time and many more than the casualties from World War I. This kind of sobering statistic is what makes you sit straight on your seat, pay attention to the screen, wonder if you are watching a documentary while simultaneously reaching for the Purell.
The fact that Soderbergh and Burns devised their storyline on a fictional virus that is deemed "biologically possible" begs the question of not if but when will we have to witness a real pathogen running rampant. In the meantime, please wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Don't touch your face And pray. A lot.
Soderbergh is a master storyteller who moves the narrative at a quick pace with the steady eye of his beloved alter ego and camera man Peter Andrews and Cliff Martinez' cool music. Soderbergh is at his most scariest when he takes a number of seemingly innocent every day acts such as shaking hands, reaching for the door knob, coughing, taking the bus, kissing your kid goodbye, sneezing and hugging and turns them into possibly lethal actions. That is what I call Horror with Capital H.
The simplicity of the quietly devastating final sequences pointing to the origins of the virus are a beauty in storytelling and a cautionary tale for meat eaters everywhere...
The stellar cast is a who's who of famous actors who have either been nominated for an Academy Award or have won one. So this is an ambitious project any way you dice it and am glad that if a humanity killing virus movie was going to be made, it was at the hands of Soderbergh. A deadly virus has rarely seemed so thrilling.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh; Running time: 1 hour 42 minutes; MPAA rating: PG-13 (for disturbing content and some language)