Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, and Kate Winslet

Utter disgust and fear.  They're those feelings you get when the guy next to you on a plane or train starts coughing uncontrollably and has the nerve to not cover his mouth.  You're both outraged at him and concerned for your own well-being.  You're focused on protecting yourself from a massive onslaught of germs.  You don't want to be the one disgusting people and spreading germs elsewhere the next day.  Because of those feelings, some germaphobes are cautious enough to carry hand sanitizer or some other cleaning product on their person at all times.  Many of us think these people are paranoid, but Steven Soderbergh vindicates these germaphobes in the epidemic thriller Contagion.

While in Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) contracts a deadly and extremely contagious virus and brings it back with her to the United States.  Upon her return, she has headaches, frequently coughs, and suffers from seizures.  She soon dies, but she infects many along the way in Hong Kong, Chicago, and her hometown of Minneapolis.  Her son contracts the virus and dies from it as well, but her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) somehow does not get infected and survives.

As the virus spreads around the globe, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) struggle to respond to the epidemic.  Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), the head of the CDC, is preparing America to face an outbreak of this dangerous virus that will take millions of lives.  He sends Dr.Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) into the field to deal with the outbreak in Minneapolis on the ground.   Cheever also coordinates his efforts with the WHO who sends Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) to Hong Kong to identify the source of the virus.  As the challenges mount, Cheever realizes that this is no longer just a crisis of health; it's a crisis of confidence that is quickly crippling civilization altogether.

With the likes of Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow, there's obviously superb acting in Contagion.  It's an all-star cast that delivers the goods and then some to show the immense nature of this epidemic.   Matt Damon and Jude Law also provide plenty of laughs.

The most terrifying thing about Contagion is that it's one of the most realistic thrillers to date.  The death, devastation, and disorder that occur in the movie could very well happen in real life in the event of a major outbreak of some new fatal disease.  The world would truly be in chaos, and we would not be able to rely on the government to step up to the plate as was skillfully argued by Jude Law's Alan Krumwiede.   We wouldn't even be able to rely on the person next to us.  There would be anarchy, which is infinitely more contagious than some flu virus—and a hell of a lot more unnerving.

For the neat freaks out there though, the film may even be scarier.  Soderbergh really focuses on showing how the virus is transmitted.  Every handshake, every cough, and every item touched by someone else has the potential to carry deadly consequences.  With all these reasons to be afraid, Soderbergh has effectively created a germaphobe's worst nightmare.  Contagion gets a 0.03% rating.  Make sure to take some hand sanitizer to the theater with you.  The movie just makes you feel so dirty.