Army doctors struggle to contain a deadly virus spreading throughout
a California town that was brought to America by an African monkey.
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Written by Lawrence Dworet and Robert Roy Pool
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Rene Russo,
Cuba Gooding Jr., Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland
In continuing my viral outbreak watchlist, I watched this big budget, big name flick from the mid-90's about a deadly virus that is highly infectious and has the potential to cause worldwide devastation. Sound familiar? Colonel Sam Daniels (Hoffman) is the best the Army has when it comes to battling infectious diseases. He's great at what he does and has a great team behind him. The only thing he's not good at is being a husband. His soon to be ex-wife, Robby (Russo), is also a top notch scientist who works for the CDC. Conveniently, they are the only hope the world has of surviving this outbreak if they could only manage to work together. Sam encounters a terrifyingly lethal virus in Zaire which has all the ingredients for a global disaster: it's highly contagious and can kill in a matter of days. As long as it stays in Africa, what could go wrong?
Aside from its predictable plot (will they find a cure before this terrible virus engulfs the country?!) it is the acting that really keeps this film going. Whereas a film like George Romero's The Crazies has a much more cynical view of government involvement in a catastrophe such as this, Outbreak makes sure to raise the stakes just enough before bringing it down for a safe landing.
The truly terrifying moments are when the virus first starts spreading to include a horrific scene in a crowded movie theater and as the town is being quarantined by the Army and the citizens are fighting to get out. With the coronavirus infecting people the world over, this was a timely and frightful reminder that we are not as safe as we'd like to believe if an event like this were to really happen.