For the opening 20 minutes, Contagion seems like the perfect thriller. And then a deadly virus strikes. Somehow, the multiple plot strands involving multiple famous actors, all get killed off with no resolution. What originally seem like tantalizing story lines involving Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslett, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Eliott Gould, just shrivel up and die.
Along the way, there’s lots of interesting scenery to be glimpsed — Hong Kong at street level, Minneapolis in the dead of winter, high tech bio hazard labs, swish WHO offices in Geneva — and the performances are strong, but that’s about it.
In the end, Contagion is what happens when you break all the rules of the three-act screenplay structure. It had promise but it just never got the script doctor it so badly needed.