Outbreak (1995)

If we learned anything during those lazy Saturday afternoon sci-fi film
festivals of our youth, it's that there's nothing more fun than watching
the end of the world.  WAR OF THE WORLDS.. INVASION OF THE BODY
SNATCHERS.. THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE.. great disaster flicks from
an era when our fears were fueled by the space race and the arms race.
Decades later, those fears are still there. Only now we've traded our
space suits for bio suits.

In the super-creepy OUTBREAK-- which has nothing to do with the Richard
Preston bestseller "Crisis in the Hot Zone"-- the threat is the deadly
Motaba virus, which has spread from the African jungle to the sleepy
California community Cedar Creek.  The disease is 100% contagious and
100% fatal.  The victims bleed from the inside out.

Only one scientist (Dustin Hoffman) knows how bad the situation really
is, and, of course, he's the lone voice of logic against every possible
cliche, from the ex-wife colleague (Rene Russo) to the skeptical military
commander (Morgan Freeman).  He even has a wet-behind-the-ears sidekick!

Director Wolfgang Petersen turns the screws very effectly, even if he
paces the film like a sequel to SPEED.  The are very few pauses in the
first 90 minutes, so some scenes seem rushed.  No problem, There's still
*plenty* of paranoia to go around.  The sight of soliders barricading a
quarantined town is something to see.  As is a single-take tour of the
U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.  The best,
by far, is a sequence showing airborne microbes spewing from a coughing
patron in a movie theater!

Tissue, anyone?

The whole thing works very well until the final reel, at which point the
film falls apart.  Credit a pair of tacked-on helicopter chases and a
completely unnecessary confrontation between Morgan Freeman and Donald
Sutherland (as a goofy general).  The added action is pretty stupid, and
it almost causes an important plot point to get glossed over.  But who
am I to argue with audience testers?

CAMEO NOTE:  Watch for an unbilled appearance by J.T. Walsh, who wanders
             through a single scene at the White House.  Is there a rule
             that requires him to appear in *every* thriller involving a

BOTTOM LINE:  Contagious fun with a lousy ending.

Grade: B-

Copyright 1995 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies

Home   |   Recommended   |   Reviews   |   Views   |   Letters   |   Links   |   FAQ   |   Search!

Please report problems to mike@legeros.com
Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros