Contagion (12 –Dir: Steven Soderbergh – Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Lawrence Fishbourne, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet)
I washed my hands thoroughly before typing this, so you need have no fear on that score.
Contagion makes it clear that germs and other nasties are out there in their zillions just waiting their chance with a hand-shake, a cough or a sneeze.
In Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff (Paltrow) dines on chicken curry which carries a new strain of mutated bacterium. After handshakes all round her fellow diners head home to various global destinations taking the killer disease with them. In weeks, more than a million people are dead, and the race is on to limit the damage and discover a vaccine.
Soderbergh takes on this epic drama in his usual understated way. The genre’s overblown clichés are ignored, and hysteria is kept low key. A stellar cast subsume their roles into the whole, and the story unfolds in a logical and sensitive progression. It’s well-produced and well-acted, but the overall effect is informative rather than frightening. It’s more documentary than thriller.
The one departure is journalist and agitator Alan Krumwiede (Law) who manages to make millions out of his altruism.
Tower Heist (12 – Dir: Brett Ratner - Stars: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda)
Josh (Stiller) is a nice guy working for a nice guy millionaire boss in a New York office block. But we know about nice guy millionaire bosses, and sure enough this one stitches everyone up. His staff are now jobless, their pensions gone, and the authorities can’t lay a finger on him.
But Josh discovers that $20m is missing from the books. He enlists newly released thief Slide (Murphy) to find it, but it’s not in the shape he expected.
Trespass (15 - Dir: Joel Schumacher – Stars: Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman)
A gang of tooled-up thugs raid the mansion home of diamond dealer Kyll Miller (Cage) only to discover that he’s broke, the mansion’s about to be repossessed and there are no gems. They don’t believe him, and a blood bath ensues in a desperate fight for survival.