OUTBREAK is a detective story and a thriller about a germ. It was
produced and directed by Wolfgang Petersen of DAS BOOT and IN THE LINE
OF FIRE fame. This is a director who knows how to create great tension
that really grabs the audience's attention and holds it through out the
entire movie. He is also a master at action sequences and the military
helicopter scenes in this flick were evidence of his abilities as well
as that of the cinematographer.
OUTBREAK starts in a remote village in Zaire. From the very
beginning of the show we know that there is a virus of cataclysmic
proportions. It works so fast that if you are not dead in twenty-four
hours after being exposed, you are safe. This germ detective story is
excellent and the pacing is good so that your eyes stay glued to the
screen. Go to the bathroom before entering, you don't want to miss any
of the details. It is complex and yet quite easy to follow.
The germ detective work had much the flavor of the movie AND THE
BAND PLAYED ON about the hunt for the source of the AIDS illness.
OUTBREAK at its best was almost as good. Petersen is a master
After seeing this movie, I should warn you that you may never want
to fly in airplanes again. You certainly will find yourself leaving
any theater where someone coughs.
Sad to say, we also learn from the beginning that there is a
subplot in the show that is going to have us believe that our military
has some covert operations of massively evil proportions going on.
Without this ridiculous and unnecessary sojourn into again lambasting
our own generals, the movie had a perfectly plausible ring to it.
The acting was uneven. Dustin Hoffman, whom I have not seen in
many movies recently, stars as the military chief of biological
research. His research was on finding the causes of and curing viral
infections--not on developing killer germs. Hoffman delivers star
quality work. He is totally believable and never goes overboard with
his acing which he has been known to do in other films.
Also excellent in the show was Hoffman's sidekick played by Cuba
Gooding Jr. He played the aggressive green recruit character in fresh
and interesting ways. He enliven every scene he was in.
Rene Russo who was so excellent in Petersen's last show, IN THE
LINE OF FIRE, was given a poorly written part as Hoffman's domestic
counterpart--the head of germ research at the CDC. She was also his
ex-wife. (Believably, having an ex-wife as beautiful as Russo, Hoffman
spent most of the movie trying to get her back.) Russo's acting was not
credible and moreover, I would just as soon have seen her whole part
eliminated. The germ research had the energy to stand on its own and
did not need a romantic second subplot to add excitement to the movie.
Another tragedy of the film was the wasting of Morgan Freeman as
Hoffman's commanding general. This was the weakest character Freeman
has ever been asked to play--very one dimensional. This brilliant
actor (GLORY, DRIVING MISS DAISY, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, etc.) did
not seem to care about the show and gave a pedestrian performance.
Finally, the less said about Donald Sutherland's part as the Major
General who was Freeman's boss, the better. Both characters were
cliches that should not have been in a movie of this caliber.
OUTBREAK runs an exciting 2:00. It is rated R for bleeding
eyeballs and other makeup effects that you see on Halloween masks.
There was a 10 year old behind me that loved the movie. I recommend
this tension filled detective story to everyone above the age of about
9, and I award it ***. Absent the unnecessary diabolical military
subplot, I would have been able to give the movie another half star.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes