Outbreak (1995) Directed by Wolfgang Petersen. With Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Donald Sutherland, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen at the peak of his career in Hollywood, Outbreak is yet another in a line of fast-paced, all-star thrillers by the veteran German film maker. Starring Dustin Hoffman, the story centres on the emergence of a lethal virus in the United States, similar in many ways to Ebola.
Though this is very much a popcorn movie, which usually implies an exaggerated state of reality, there is a concrete real-world scariness about it. One scene in which a man coughs inside a crowded cinema, chillingly demonstrates the ease with which contagion can spread. That said, this is Hollywood, so it isn’t long before something dumb or over-inflated occurs.
As mentioned, the cast is a starry one. Dustin Hoffman is an assured bet in the lead role, helping to keep the film semi-grounded, even as it continually threatens to soar off into the stratosphere of stupid. Of course, you’d be surprised not to see Morgan Freeman in this kind of film in the mid 90’s, but as always, his presence is a welcome one.
If you can relax and just go along with it, Outbreak is an undemanding watch. The final third feels a bit too much like an episode of TV’s Airwolf, with helicopter dogfights replacing the script for about 20-mins, but as a whole, it’s mildly enjoyable fare. 3/5