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Published on Sep 14, 2011
A cough on a crowded bus. A handshake before a business meeting. A bowl of peanuts sitting on an airport snack bar. A handful of change handed as a tip to a waiter. Greeting a loved one at the airport. A simple action like this transmits a lethal virus. One intercontinental flight later, a global pandemic explodes. From Hong Kong to Minneapolis, London to Abu Dhabi, people by the thousands come down with something nasty. It starts with a simple cough, but quickly progresses to fever, brain hemorrhage and, finally, death.
While society begins to break down as a result of the biological terror it faces, researchers race to identify the constantly mutating killer virus and find a way to stop it. Developing a vaccine to counteract the superbug is a path strewn with obstacles, as decisions about who gets the cure first inspire suspicion and anger. Meanwhile, one activist blogger claims the public isn't being told the truth and spreads an epidemic of fear and paranoia that is as infectious as the virus itself.
The global scope of Scott Z. Burns's screenplay allows celebrated director Steven Soderbergh to bring together a stellar international ensemble cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Jennifer Ehle, Laurence Fishburne, Elliott Gould, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet. With Contagion, he crafts his own very contemporary take on the mass-hysteria film. Smart as well as spooky, it takes the familiar world and makes it strange --a place where interacting with another person might be fatal. That stranger in the seat next to you, what was that loud sneeze about? The kid at the candy counter who handed you your popcorn, didn't he look unwell?