What starts as a biological bug-on-the-loose thriller, à la “The Andromeda Strain”, quickly turns into a predictable chase drama with the menacing virus eventually playing second banana to stereotypical authority figures who insist on behaving badly. Director Wolfgang Petersen has proven a proclivity, in the past, for transforming action-based materials into intense and interesting films, when the script used has a basis in characters which enrich and are enriched by the story being told- “Das Boot” and “In the Line of Fire” being prime examples. However, with “Outbreak”, Petersen is crippled by an unimaginative piece of Hollywood formula writing- by Laurence Dworet and Robert Roy Pool -at its most predictably banal. The film follows the efforts of a team of scientists led by Colonel Sam Daniels (Dustin Hoffman) and Robby Keough (Rene Russo), to isolate and (miraculously) eradicate a terrifying new viral strain that has emerged in a sleepy California town by way of an infected monkey from Zaire, with the critical nature of the situation emphasized by the wearisome, obvious trickery of intensified editing rhythms and overly busy scoring attempting to ratchet the suspense through the sheer percussive use of noise. However, the true culprit in bringing the film to its knees, is the continued misplaced perception of Hollywood that in order to strike an empathetic connection with the audience, it is advisable to supplant the featured conditions of urgency- in this case, possible global extinction -with (supposedly) endearing petting banter. In the case of “Outbreak”, the forced pseudo-romantic dialogue is excused by making Sam and Robby ex-spouses, as if a biological world threat is an appropriate backdrop to resuscitate the age of sparkling seductive patter, thus assuming that graphic depictions of festering, hemorrhaging lesions are a natural path to an updated version of “The Awful Truth”.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/