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There is a drug dealer who has been exposed to cholera
he dies of an overdose. Anybody who takes the drug contaminated
with cholera will contract it. Anybody who eats food that
been touched by them will contract it.
An epidemiologist has to deal with her own demons and deal with hundreds of patients in all the hospitals in the city in order to control the outbreak.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not too much new in this story of some contaminated shrimp giving lots
of people cholera and giving everybody the heebeejeebies. The problem
is real enough. There are plenty of reasons to be worried, even about
old-fashioned nineteenth-century epidemic diseases like cholera. Cases
do crop up once in a while. About thirty years ago a couple of
teen-aged boys got it from fishing a watermelon out of the Hudson River
and eating it. On top of that, a lot of pathogens are starting to flip
the bird at antibiotics, developing resistance to them, and then
passing that resistance on by natural selection. It doesn't help that
we're pumping our beef full of antibiotics to make a few extra dollars.
Huh? The movie? Oh, right. Lindsay Wagner is an epidemiologist with some fictional federal health organization (read "CDC"). She's having a bit of trouble with her new family at home. Her husband is a widower with two kids and they resent her taking Mom's place. Hubby isn't too happy with her either because she spends so much time at work.
Anyway, people on an airliner nibble the befouled shrimp and start to get sick. As they deplane they split up and begin melting into the larger population, bringing the disease with them. The passengers must be a bunch of filthy pigs because the only way you spread cholera is by not using toilet tissue properly and not washing your hands before leaving the bathroom. This is especially bad news when, like one of the many victims in the story, you happen to be the salad chef in the kind of fancy restaurant at which guests must observe dress codes, and you get sick and feel faint, and to stop yourself from falling to the floor you plunge your contaminated fist into a giant bowl of tossed salad that's about to be parceled out to patrons in the dining room. Compared to that, finding a finger in your chili is small potatoes.
I honestly don't like to think too hard about this film because it reflects so badly on the writers and the director and it seems unkind. But -- well, the plot is all over the place. I couldn't follow exactly who was getting sick or how. And too much time is wasted on Lindsay Wagner's family, the nice, hunky husband and the two confused kids. They go on a weekend camping trip during which Dad comes down with cholera. He's physically disabled and mentally disordered on a remote mountaintop and the two kids don't know what to do. The older boy begins to hike back to civilization. That's sensible enough. But then he has to fall down and twist his leg so he must hobble back to the camp site. Disaster upon disaster. And when the rescue helicopter is flying about, looking for them, towards the end, they do the same thing that leaves me feeling that maybe I'm coming down with cholera too. They scream excitedly at the noisily rattling helicopter which is half a mile away at a position angle of 45 degrees -- "Help! We're down here! Help!" Have the writers no shame? Does the debilitated husband survive? Do the two kids bond with their stepmother? In the immortal words of Marcellus, you'd have to get medieval on me before I revealed the answers. I will tell you how the spreading epidemic is contained though. At the end, a minor character walks onto the screen out of the blue and informs Lindsay Wagner that all the airplane passengers have been tracked down and so has everyone who's had contact with them. A nice surprise there. Skips all that tedious business about how they managed to identify and track down thousands of strangers.
There are a couple of redeeming features in the film though. Lindsay Wagner is professionally competent, better at being cool than at being distraught. Elizabeth Pena, however, is absolutely GREAT. Her face has large features and shiny black irises that look as if they could see through steel. Her voice is low and her movement fluid and languorous. She's startling, and all of this without being staggeringly beautiful. Molly Parker in a small part is equally good, pale and vulnerable, and with tilted Mongol eyes. A couple of the bit parts are played very well too, though I can't remember the names of the characters or even if they had any.
Overall it's about what you'd expect from one of these Canadian made-for-TV dramas. The chief problem is that we completely lose sight of the organism and its shenanigans after a three-second glimpse of it on a slide. If you want to see a far more technical film about a subject like this, see "The Andromeda Strain." Equally good: "And the Band Played On." If you want to see a fully realized treatment, watch "Panic in the Streets."
I normally aspire to write reviews which are witty, thought-provoking, and provide true insight into a film's artistic merits. This made-for-TV movie, however, deserves no such effort. This is probably one of the worst TV moves - no make that movie in general - that I have ever seen. The acting is horrible (I have seen better performances in high school drama class productions), the plot is rambling and pointless, and even the cinematography is more soap-opera than any movie ever should be. Pure trash - avoid at all costs.
Exhausted doctor battles with cholera outbreak. Columbian drug smuggling is thrown in for added excitement. So what is missing from this Canadian production? If you are looking to be entertained, this film is not for you. If you are interested in public health problems and the way in which hospitals fight cholera epidemics then this film might prove informative. It's likely you'll cancel your plane flight in the near future. The film is more of an educational documentary. A little love interest is thrown in towards the end when the disease strikes the doctor's family and effectively reunites them after family problems. The film lacks any kind of relief from the constant admission of hospital patients and a frustrated doctor devoid of sleep. In a word, hospital procedures (stimulation of heart muscle with hypodermic needles and electric shock) are not the basis for a good night's entertainment.
This made for TV movie suffers in comparison to the tense and exciting 'Outbreak'. You can join the dots yourself as the story unfolds and it becomes a matter of waiting for the cast to jump through the hoops. There are no surprises. But there is Brendan Fletcher, who makes a silk purse from the sow's ear of a script. He is always worth watching.
Must admit, one of the first in this screenplay's body count - the bearded
drugs gang member - shouldn't have moved his eyelids when he was supposed
be dead but, then, these productions are expected to have reasonably
But any TV movie with Lindsay is surely worth a look out of idle curiosity. Maybe she isn't the world's greatest actress and, doubtless, she could be more selective of material. I wouldn't mind having the opportunity to work with her.
The movie never picked up momentum. Bad performance from most of the actors. Looked more like amateur theatre. And the music score in dramatic scenes for eg. while rescuing the girl from the woods was mundane. The film just lacks focus. Don't waste your time. I can't believe Paramount bought this movie.
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