Robert Roy Pool
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Outbreak, Wolfgang Petersen's disaster drama from 1995, boasted an all-star cast and it proved a hit at the box-office despite receiving mixed reviews. It follows a small team of scientists who attempt to find the host of a deadly virus before the army eradicates an affected small American town.
Dustin Hoffman stars as Colonel Sam Daniels, a virologist for the U.S. Army who investigates an outbreak in Zaire and soon butts heads with higher ups who are attempting to cover up the first time this virus appeared in the 1960's when they bombed a camp with infected soldiers to keep it from spreading. Donald Sutherland is the ruthless General willing to ignore scientific breakthroughs and risk human lives if it means shielding his own coverup. Sam's team includes young Major Salt (Cuba Gooding Jr.), Lieutenant Colonel Casey Schuler (Kevin Spacey) and Sam's ex-wife Robby (Rene Russo), a doctor who later becomes infected with the virus. Morgan Freeman also stars as a General who is stuck having to answer to his superior's dodgy orders.
Here's a very Hollywood take on a still relevant subject matter that works hard to convey the panic and urgency involved when it comes to dealing with such a potentially devastating event. Outbreak goes the thriller route which does keep the plot moving along at a good pace but also, arguably, distracts from what the characters are going through. In fact, everything about Outbreak is somewhat heavy-handed from the make-up effects to the big rousing speeches our heroes break into and the rushed storytelling that sees the scientist team crack the case and save the world in 48 hours. A more subtle and measured approach would have, no doubt, made it all more palatable and, ultimately, more powerful.
An excellent cast saves Outbreak from being a waste of time as everyone delivers solid performances here. The film itself definitely had potential and it does have some good scenes here and there but it lacks the energy to be a worthy thriller or the realism to make the drama count and carry a much needed emotional weight.
Not bad but forgettable.