Netflix has the disaster action movie that we all collectively need right now – Outbreak (1995).
At press time, the world is ending. The Coronavirus is here as the epidemic sweeps across the planet. And while sure, the facts might be a little skewed as to how dangerous the virus is in terms of infection versus mortality rates, it definitely is the wise move for everyone to be prepared to go out less, and stay in more.
So, if you’re quarantined at a home. Or just looking for something to watch to help take your mind off the news, here’s the perfect movie to quell your fears. That’s right, bask in Outbreak (1995), in all its reassuring movie-trope glory with Dustin Hoffman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman. And if you don’t have it on VHS (as would always be the preferred screening method), it’s also currently streaming on Netflix.
UAMC Reviews ‘Outbreak’ (1995)
Based on a nonfiction book by Richard Preston, Outbreak follows the story of a fictional “Ebola-like” virus as it makes its way from the jungles of Africa to eventually wreaking havoc on a small town in northern California. The majority of the film comes from the disaster-drama between the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the two agencies struggle with how to contain the deadly disease.
However, probably the most interesting part today is how the movie tracks the “outbreak” as it’s brought over by a host vessel (it’s a monkey!) and we watch, in an almost Michael Bay-ian like montage of people coughing and wheezing as the camera buzzes around them. We see germ particles float through the air of crowded movie theaters as the disease spreads quite cinematically from person to person.
Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding Jr. as Action Stars
And while the movie is labeled as a “medical disaster film” it does have action elements! Because no movie can be a blockbuster without needless action, of course. As the movie picks up and the California town gets shut down, we get plenty of big set-pieces showing the military going all out to lock the town up and keep quarantine. Yes, at times it’s sad, but we also have some really great good guys on it!
Dustin Hoffman, his ex-wife / college Rene Russo, Cuba Gooding Jr. and a cringe-y Kevin Spacey are your virus-Avengers as they work round the clock to crack the case. For some reason, and I don’t know how exact this science is today, it’s discovered that the only way to curtail the virus is to find the original host animal (again, it’s a monkey!).
We also have some expected Michael Crichton-seediness coming from the vast U.S. military complex (portrayed singularly by Donald Sutherland) who – again, for whatever reason – are dead-set on stopping Hoffman and crew. (Instead of finding the monkey, they’d rather just simply blow the town up… because it’s a movie.)
A Virus Epidemic Action Movie
So, off Hoffman and Gooding Jr. go! They steal a helicopter, they overtake local news stations with guns blazing, they raid sea vessels as they frantically chase a monkey. And… it’s awesome! I didn’t expect there to be this much excitement in the film, but Hoffman and Gooding Jr. really make a great team. There’s even some awesome and intense helicopter dogfights thrown in.
And, best of yet, at the end of the day – SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! – the good guys win. The virus is magically contained. Hoffman and Russo end up together. And the United States government learns its lesson once and for all. Which, I’d argue, is exactly the kind of mind-numbing goodness that mainstream action adventure movies are designed to create in the face of unspeakable circumstance and sorrow.
So, settle on home. Nuzzle yourself into your couch. Put your hazmat suit. And quarantine it up for Outbreak.