"Crash," only without the conveniently, if not ridiculously converging story arcs.
Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, The Informant) directs, although it is Soderbergh himself who seems to be suffering from a touch of the flu in the form of his apparent obsession with "The Dark Knight." So much so that Soderbergh employs many of the same directing techniques used by fellow director Christopher Nolan to the point that, if you closed your eyes and imagined a recurring baseline score, you'd think you were actually watching a cheap interpretation of a Nolan movie.
In fact, Soderbergh is so apparently enamored with the 2008 box office juggernaut, he even resorts to attaining the services of "Dark Knight" actors Monique Gabriela Curnen (otherwise known as the dirty cop, Ramirez) and Chin Han (otherwise known as Chinese crime lord, Lau), not to mention one of the stars from Nolan's newest Batman flick, Marion Cotillard. Nothing indicative of Soderbergh's prior work is on display here, only the remnants of a once original director teetering on the verge of retirement, who at this point is apparently more influenced by the work of another director than he is that of his own.
The honeymoon continues, however, for Matt Damon and Soderbergh, who for the sixth time are reunited with their work on the film, although it doesn't come without its share of dead bodies along the way. Perhaps what is the most horribly miscast film in recent memory, Contagion capitalizes on the long list of Oscar-winners and nominees in a shrewd effort to lure audiences into emptying their pockets for a show they're not going to get. From Marion Cotillard, to John Hawkes, and yes, even Matt Damon, the only question Contagion has audiences pondering isn't in terms of a cure, but rather why such lofty names are attached to roles that could just as easily have gone to lesser-known actors looking to make a name for themselves. Such was the case for actress Jennifer Ehle, who was the only person cast correctly in the entire film. And boy did it show. Case in point: Why cast Lawrence Fishburne as the lead in a film when you have Matt Damon?
Though Contagion is a captivating docudrama of suspense that plays on the events of the times to near perfection, when you get right down to it, it's nothing more than a series of convoluted stories, interconnected due to the fact that each provides a different perspective of the epidemic within the ranks of society, but sharing no commonality in order to congeal the story as a whole. Imagine "Crash," only without the conveniently, if not ridiculously converging story arcs.