I don’t do this often, but I have a hot stock tip: Buy Johnson & Johnson. Because if anything is going to make people run out and buy Purell in bulk, it’s this movie. There are movies that you love while you’re watching them but you forget about later (see Point Blank). There are movies you struggle to get through but rave about later. This is a movie you will love while you’re watching and will rave about later. It’s intelligent, brilliantly acted and horrifying.
The story begins on ‘Day 2.’ Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) is an executive with some ominous international conglomerate. She is returning home from a business trip in Hong Kong with a touch of the flu. She arrives home hugs her son and her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon), and she and her son are dead within days. Similar cases begin cropping up in Chicago, China, and the U.K. Dr. Ellis Cheeter (Laurence Fishburne) and others begin an investigation. The problem is twofold: The virus can be spread through surface contact—doorknobs and elevator buttons—and it is almost impossible to grow in a laboratory environment, making the creation of a vaccine virtually impossible.
That’s really all I want to tell you about the film. It’s more about the study of human behavior than viral behavior, and it is riveting. Much like the disease itsel, the film starts out slowly but steadily gathers steam toward a fascinating finish. Steven Soderbergh is a genius story teller, and it really says something about a cast when I have left Oscar winners and nominees (Marion Cotillard, Jude Law and Elliott Gould) out of the review. Once I restock on hand sanitizer, I may go see it again.
It's a 9.