Contagion DVD REVIEW

Going viral

Jude Law as Alan Krumwiede in Contagion.

Even the fact that Gary Barlow had contracted Ebola didn't put off the X-Factor auditionees.

Release Date: 5 March 2012
2011 | 12 | 102 minutes | £19.99 (DVD)/£24.99 (triple-play Blu-ray)
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard

Sitting in the rarely visited hinterland between star-filled disaster movie, public information film and Threads-ish docu-drama, Steven Soderbergh’s global pandemic thriller is believable enough to be genuinely chilling. As it charts the outbreak and spread of a lethal new virus, Contagion flits between victims, survivors and government scientists in such a clinical, documentary style that the coughs and splutters become disconcertingly convincing.

Soderbergh marshalled a large ensemble cast and multiple plotlines to Oscar-winning effect in Traffic, and Contagion proves he hasn’t lost the knack. It’s in the opening act that he’s at his best, giving as much time to the experts trying to work out what’s going on (properly interesting stuff) as wallowing in the more quintessentially Hollywood family tragedy. He also refuses to be starstruck – having an Academy Award on your mantelpiece is not enough to save you from this killer bug.

As usually happens in disaster movies, however – whether the threat is alien, microbe or the elements – Contagion is somewhat front-loaded. The tight, plausible plotting of the first half gives way to over-simplistic convenience, while the less said about Jude Law’s “is he trying to do an Australian accent?” blogger the better. Look past these relatively minor flaws, however, and you’ve got one of the scariest films of the year – and the best advert for hand sanitiser you will ever see.


The DVD (rated) is armed with just a very brief public information film/promo video explaining how viruses can spread. Blu-ray viewers get a couple of extra documentaries.

Richard Edwards

For an alternate perspective, read our review of Contagion from the theatrical release.

Read more of our DVD reviews.