Man has conquered the Earth, mapped every corner of the globe, and is the top of the food chain. Though natural disasters and war happen, he is ultimately invincible. Except for against microorganisms. Outbreak is about a situation where man can die without being able to fight, and what the military would do about should such a situation occur.
Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Donald Sutherland make up the all-star cast that heads this scientific thriller, and, to put it frankly, they make this movie what it is. Everything else aside, a movie look Outbreak could end up being a cheesy B-grade flick without a good cast, and Dustin Hoffman is the man to lead. I haven't been disappointed by a performance yet, and he is perfect in this role. He is the hero of the film, both for story's sake and for entertainment's sake.
The movie itself also plays out very well. The opening sequence is stunning, to say the least, and a great foreshadowing of what's to come. The movie quickly jumps to modern times and gets us into the main story; Hoffman and his team have just investigated a village that was wiped out by an epidemic. At the same time, we see the journey of a monkey from that region of the world as it finally arrives in California, where the first person is infected. How it goes from there is just great.
I like how the military is portrayed in the film. Donald Sutherland plays the stereotype bad-guy General who has no thought for normal civilians, but Morgan Freeman portrays the more well-rounded General who is seriously trying to do what's best for everyone. More importantly, though, is the way that the military controls the situation. The quarantine scenes, with all of the townspeople fighting to get out, are great.
Outbreak is also very suspenseful. Even though there is no visible villain, the various incidents that occur make up some good moments. From scenes where main characters possibly become infected (it has to happen in a movie like this) to military cover-ups, Outbreak has it all.
Although it might have too much. While the helicopter dogfight scene is intense, I was a little wary about it at the time. For a movie about an epidemic, having the military trying to shoot down one of the country's most renowned scientists seems a little bit over the top; military cover-ups do not need to extend that far. But still, it made for a suspenseful scene.
The movie seems fairly scientifically probable, although it does rely on some coincidences. Also, it seems that the scientists are not wearing quarantine masks sometimes when it seems that they should be.
Overall, Outbreak is a great movie. It is suspenseful and scientifically accurate, as far as I know. It does have some slips here and there and goes out of its way to entertain the audience with some explosive action, but it is all in good fun.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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