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Film Review: “Outbreak” (1995) ★★★★


It does not really matter whether or not one or another virus was created in a lab to be used as a weapon, it’s our careless actions that let the virus spread. For that, it’s enough to be selfish and not wash hands or cover your mouth while sneezing or coughing. The question we always ask ourselves is how would we react if we find ourselves in an event unfolding in the exact same way as it was described in “Contagion” or “Outbreak”? The answer is no longer a mystery. We do not take any warning seriously until we get hit personally. But once it happens, we no longer can undo the damage being caused by our self-centered personality.

Once thought to be extinct, a deadly virus that was supposedly destroyed back in 1967 in Zaire, is back by hitting California’s Cedar Creek town. An army doctor, Sam Daniels (Dustin Hoffman) struggles to find a cure for a disease that does not even give a chance to its victim. While the CDC tries to contain the virus, the bigger game occurs behind the curtains where certain individuals are not only interested in finding a vaccine but willing to destroy the entire town to keep the secret of the true origin of virus a secret.

The film opens in 1967 during the Kisangami Mutinies when a virus called Motaba is discovered in the African jungle. U.S. Army officers Donald McClintock and Billy Ford promise the town immediate help but instead send a bomb by wiping out the camp filled with infected soldiers. Twenty-eight years later, when Colonel Sam Daniels was sent to Zaire to investigate an outbreak, the man warns his superiors about the upcoming pandemic, however, his analysis and advice were disregarded. But soon when the actual spread begins, Sam Daniels begins the race against time to find the host of the virus who’s literally not that far away from him but he just does not know about it yet.

Screenplay by Laurence Dworet and Robert Roy Pool and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, “Outbreak” is an interesting and somewhat realistic medical disaster drama that takes an interesting shape in the time of the coronavirus outbreak. The only difference though is that there are no helicopters flying around, no military walking around, and no guns being used to stop unhappy civilians and a quarantine act is yet to be invoked. The stellar cast of “Outbreak” that includes 4 Oscar winners – Dustin Hoffman, Cuba Gooding  Jr., Kevin Spacey, and Morgan Freeman and backed by Rene Russo and Donald Sutherland, takes us right to the heart of the drama where millions of lives depend on certain individuals who won’t stop at nothing to save the planet from the deadly virus.

That said, “Outbreak” is an intense and intelligent film that delivers a nail-biting atmosphere. However, while some scenes are too harsh and highly unlikely to happen in the modern era, it still appears truthful if it was, say, not happening in the U.S. but in some other part of the world where human life is cheaper than toilet paper. Other than that, “Outbreak” is an excellent piece to be watched any time, any day and any year, if you desire. Especially when you find yourself in self-isolation and still do not understand why all these measures are necessary, then Petersen’s film will well explain that by adding a few extra points which I will leave it to you to find out.

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