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Carriers (1998)

TV Movie  |   |  Thriller  |  27 October 1998 (USA)
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A female Army doctor and a journalist team up to track a killer virus.



(book), (teleplay) (as Joyce Brotman)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maj. Carmen Travis
Holly Parker
Col. John O. Bailey
Capt. David Arends
Martha Collin
Frank Sanborn
J. Tucker Smith ...
Tom Travis (as Tucker Smith)
Elke Larson ...
Alex Parker
Kylie Larson ...
Lucy Parker
Bill Robertson ...
Sgt. Paul Lennox
Dr. Peter Larrimore
Rob Dator ...
Dr. Marty Watts
Dr. Bert Levy
Rhett Sanders ...
Oliver Travis
Alec Jarvis


A female Army doctor and a journalist team up to track a killer virus.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis








Release Date:

27 October 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Contaminação  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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21 June 2002 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

There is an outbreak of a virus unfamiliar to science. It leads to a "hemorrhagic fever" of some sort. An army doctor, a major, played by Judith Light, accompanied by her black colleague, is designated to investigate it and uncover its source and its treatment. They manage to trace the infections back to Africa, thence to a mysterious government facility in Alabama. It turns out that the virus was developed (somehow) as part of a government-sponsored investigation by a private research organization into genetic restructuring. That's basically the source. The treatment is discovered serendipitously through the exposure of identical twins to the virus, one of whom had a transfusion from an immune person and who's blood now carries the antibodies. That's it.

Did you find that confusing? I can only call them as I see them. There is the germ of a great, suspenseful movie in these ideas, and the production blows its chance. This has to be one of the murkiest plots ever. Murky plots are okay in some kinds of movies. I suppose I'm still not sure what "2001: A Space Odyssey" was about. But this is supposed to be a scientific detective story. A subplot is thrown in about a despairing mother, Pamela Reed, whose two children disappear while visiting their father in Gabon. We get time-wasting discussions between Reed and Light about how it feels to be a mother and worry about your children. The time wasted should have been spent on exposition. There is nothing about various levels of protection against infection, about how those alien-looking suits work, or about sterilization procedures. (They use Lysol!) As the story unfolds we learn practically nothing about viruses, let alone THE virus. (There's a ten-second glimpse of what looks like a strand of spaghetti during a slide show.) If only we had learned as much about viruses here, where it's essential, as we learned about ants in "Them." Or about alien microorganisms in "The Andromeda Strain," before that story collapsed during its last few minutes. As it is, "Andromeda" stands next to this flick as a model of explanatory clarity. At any rate, I couldn't follow this plot. It's too bad. Because anyone who wants to learn just how thoroughly creepy the real possibilities of such an outbreak are should read a well-written book about the subject, "Hot Zone," by an author whose name now escapes me. The symptoms of the ebola-like virus are described in this film by offhand references to the liquifying of internal organs. Read the book, if you can find it, and discover exactly what this involves. We've already had a couple of close calls in real life that virtually no one seems to know or care much about. The influenza outbreak of 1918 flattened the United States and Europe, but that was nothing compared to the viruses we are on the verge of unleashing on the world because of our penetration of heretofore unfriendly environments like tropical rainforests. In these secluded areas, a virus may be endemic among a population of monkeys or wild boars, where they may cause no more serious symptoms than a common cold. (HIV was basically a nuisance to chimps.) But we are in the process now of providing them with a new host, the largest, most populous land mammal around, and one who travels rapidly all over the place by airplane. In the movies, when there is a threat posed like this, science comes to our rescue. The experts are called up. Only, as regards this particular threat, there are no experts -- and no protection at all.

The acting in this film is perfunctory. Judith Light is pretty convincing as a commanding officer, or commanding person. You can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she blinks while the cameras are rolling. The big military/industrial conspiracy is the usual stuff, detracting from any realization that the real demon here is so small.

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