Hollywood's busiest director, Steven Soderbergh, is always preparing for a few projects at once, but his next film, Contagion sounds genuinely awesome. The cast is rounding out and details on the film are beginning to garner major interest.
Soderbergh has worked with an ensemble of Hollywood's elite before (Ocean's 11) and created one of the most enjoyable films of the last ten years. The script for Contagion has been making heads turn, even though it was just finished in January. With a great screenplay, a star-studded cast and one of the more talented filmmakers out there at the helm, this movie is worth anticipating.
Scott Z. Burns, writer of The Bourne Ultimatum and The Informant!, penned a script that sounds like quite the work, taking the best parts of Soderbergh's Traffic and applying it to the fear of deadly disease. This is a topic that's barely been touched upon in a realistic setting and would be a nice escape from the usual disease-causes-zombies premise, which frankly I'm sick of seeing.
The Playlist has an inside look at the Contagion script:
"[Burns] has clearly done an enormous amount of research, and it's thoroughly, horrifyingly conceivable throughout, but it's also as much about the way that information can spread virally in the Web 2.0 age, as it is about the spread of the virus. Burns ties these dual themes together in the final pages, the two dovetailing in a hugely satisfying way."
I'd see that film even if it starred a bunch of nobodies and was directed by a 12-year-old. As it stands we're getting the cream of the crop; you can always count on Soderbergh. Even if you don't like some of his work, you've got to step back and look at the overall snapshot; what he did with a porn star and a suspect story in The Girlfriend Experience was an artist performing at his best.
Throw names like Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne and Gwenyth Paltrow into the Contagion mix, and you've got the ingredients for a major blockbuster. Now, blockbusters aren't typically Soderbergh's style, but looking at all the factors, this sounds like one of the most interesting projects in production right now.
If this generation has anything it can identify with, it is fear. Like the 60s had its revolutions, we've been overwhelmed with fear since 2001. The fear of a viral outbreak has been ever-present in recent years and Contagion attacks the topic head on. From the descriptions, there is a lot of Outbreak and a little Crash mixed together in this film.
This will also be a globe-spanning event, with the film finding its way to Hong Kong, Minneapolis, Chicago, China, Dubai, Japan, Switzerland, The United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia, and Malaysia. This almost makes Inception's globetrotting seem like a high school field trip. And knowing Soderbergh's style, he'll likely be on location for it all.
The one aspect I find most interesting, is that the disease is not some superpower force that kills everybody in its path. Rather, it works specifically, like most real viruses. Instead of this being some action-packed thrill ride of antidotes trying to get distributed to the masses, the story projects the fear of disease on different types of people and examines the strain (pun intended) that fear puts on relationships both small and large. While it apparently steers clear of overblown action, the film still maintains a pace that can be neck-breaking at times.
"The film is a race against time, the stakes are incredibly high throughout the film, and Burns' script never lets up — you're never allowed the opportunity to stop and catch your breath, which gives it a tight focus...This isn't to say that there's a lack of texture or emotion to the film (the latter in particular is something that people often complain about in regards to Soderbergh's work); while its certainly procedural in tone, there are plenty of sequences of humanity sprinkled through the script that tethers the tale in the hear and now."
There's no question that the abilities of these top-tier actors will be put to good use; Soderbergh's greatest talent is getting the most out of his actors. I can only hope he never gets burnt out and lets the exhaustion bleed into his work. However, Matt Damon talks at length in the Ocean's 11 DVD commentary about Soderbergh's constant need to be working and his love for the job.
Coming off the global trek of a film called Knockout, Soderbergh will continue his travels, only this time with a bigger budget and a potential blockbuster on his hands. If there's one film next year I'm already looking forward to, it's Contagion.
For full script details and analysis, check out The Playlist breakdown.
Contagion is set to release in 2011.
Source: The Playlist
Bio hazard image: Layout Sparks