Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review Tuesday: 'Outbreak'

Today’s ‘Review Tuesday’. Any movie whose cast’s led by Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland and Morgan Freeman wouldn’t normally escape my notice. Especially if its heroes are epidemiologists fighting a developing epidemic of a deadly virus. So I don’t know how I missed seeing the 1995 film Outbreak [1, 2, 3] ­ until last Saturday. The eponymous outbreak occurs in the US following the inadvertent importation from Africa of a monkey carrying, but not infected by, the virus. Sutherland’s and Morgan’s characters, both US Army generals, know the virus is a biological weapon, and not only refuse to make the antidote serum available to the infected US citizens, but arrange for them to be bombed – to destroy the virus and them ‘in the interest of national security’. The good guys are led by Hoffman’s character who’s an Army physician epidemiologist and an idealistic iconoclast, He prevents the bombing, locates the carrier monkey, and saves not only the infected citizens, but also the characters played by Russo and Spacey (also epidemiologists, with the former Hoffman’s character’s ex-wife) who’ve become infected with the virus. In the end the bad guys lose, the good guys win, and Hoffman’s and Russo’s characters reconcile in rekindled love. Though Outbreak’s 16 years old, it hasn’t dated one iota. Indeed its message – that deadly viruses can spread with ridiculous ease – remains chillingly relevant today. As an erstwhile epidemiologist [4], I reckon Outbreak’s a ripper film. I rate it four stars.

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