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Outbreak (1995)

2009 May 28 Reviewed on

Medical potboiler about a lethal African virus that hitchhikes to the United States thanks to a bootlegged Capuchin monkey and threatens to become a pandemic, unless a team of CDC and army doctors can stop it.

Colonel Sam Daniels (Dustin Hoffman) is a U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) golden boy that sees a pandemic brewing when a mysterious virus re-emerges in Zaire after seeming to have burnt itself out many years earlier. The fictional (thank G-d) Motaba virus spreads more easily than a cold and appears to bring with it all the joys of Ebola and Marburg. He tries to warn some people about a possible epidemic but everyone, including his equally brilliant, estranged wife Robby (Rene Russo), thinks he’s fearing the impossible. Daniels may be an alarmist, but he sure called it this time. A carrier Capuchin monkey is smuggled in by a bonehead (Patrick Dempsey) looking to cash it out at a pet store, and a plague that rivals Captain Trips is soon unleashed. As if all this isn’t enough, there are also problems coming from on high for Daniels to deal with, but any more elaboration from me would entail a spoiler.

The story line reminded me of one of those yes/no flowcharts, and the science is pretty shaky, but it’s still a decent flick. The movie theater scene was pretty sobering — the thought of something this horrible traveling this easily is enough to make your skin crawl. The acting was good, especially the interaction between Hoffman and Russo. Kevin Spacey was also good as gadfly Major Casey Schuler. My favorite small bit is when Daniels flatly explains to Major Salt (Cuba Gooding Jr.) why the Army is really doing what they’re doing.

Three chocolate morsels.


morsel morsel morsel

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