Plot: What’s it about?
David Whitman (William Hurt) is an infectious disease expert who lost his family to an unknown disease, but he has continued his work nonetheless. He has handled some dangerous situations before, but never like his next assignment, that’s for sure. It seems an incident a a chemical facility and as a result, someone has been infected with a lethal disease. The man is Joseph Muller (Peter Weller), who has been laid off from the plant and is none too pleased about it, since he needs the cash to pay his child support payments, as well as just make ends meet. So he decided to fight the system a little and when it got out of control, an accident happened and Muller was infected with this most dangerous disease. The pathogen he was exposed to very lethal, to the extent that one drop of his blood could kill someone in mere seconds. Now Whitman has to track him down before it’s too late, as some government agents are also in the hunt and they find him first, the results could be most disastrous, to be sure.
I was very interested to see this film and I managed to catch it on cable television, but as you can imagine, that wasn’t the best way to see it. I wasn’t too let down with the flick itself however, so I looked forward to this disc and now, I can lend my thoughts on the subject. The movie has a solid premise and I tend to enjoy bio-thrillers on the whole, so I figured it would worth a look and it was. As solid as the film turned out to be, the lack of budget shows at times and while not a real hindrance, some cash in the right places would have enhanced this one more than a little. I would say it equals most direct to video movies in terms of production values and on a cast basis, it has some good names and performances. William Hurt and Peter Weller share the leads in good form, while Natascha McElhone and Michael Brandon turn in more than solid supporting efforts. I wouldn’t call this much above a decent flick, but if you’re a fan of the bio-thriller genre, then Contaminated Man is more than a worth a rental, if you ask me.
I am never that excited to see William Hurt’s name on a cast list, but not because he lacks skills, as that’s not the case. I think Hurt is a gifted performer to be sure, but he seems to have poor choice in roles and as a result, his work doesn’t often click with me. Even so, he was a wise choice for this role, as he brings his substantial skills to the plate and more than delivers, though perhaps not to his fullest extent. But I guess we can’t expect full tilt performances in low budget, direct to video releases like this one, at least not usually with the better known actors, like Hurt. I liked his performance here better than I had banked on, so he was won me over a little more, I suppose. You can also see Hurt in such films as Broadcast News, A.I., Altered States, The Accidental Tourist, Lost in Space, and A Couch in New York. The cast also includes Peter Weller (Robocop, Screamers), Natascha McElhone (The Truman Show, The Devil’s Own), Michael Brandon (FM, A Vacation in Hell), and Christopher Cazenove (A Knight’s Tale, Shadow Run).
Video: How does it look?
Contaminated Man is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The film’s low budget roots are obvious at times, but this still turns out to be a more than acceptable visual presentation. A few of the darker scenes look a little muddy however, which keeps the score down in the end. Even so, this is a terrific looking transfer under the circumstances and I don’t think anyone will be let down. The colors seem bright enough and never falter much, while flesh tones look warm and natural, as intended. As I mentioned, some of the darker scenes slip a little, but contrast is usually stable and well balanced, so no worries. I am giving this a very good score and while it isn’t as refined as some others, given the film’s nature, this is about as good as anyone could have asked for, I think.
Audio: How does it sound?
Not much to discuss on this front, as the included Dolby stereo option is good, but lacks the immersive traits I had hoped for. I liken this to viewing the film on cable television, as it seems no more powerful or immersive, not in the least. The experience is not bad by any means, but it just doesn’t have the presence I would like, though it is more than decent. The music comes through as well as can be expected, while the sound effects seem a little limited at times, but still emerge in more than acceptable form. No real problems with dialogue either, as the vocals seem clear and always easy to understand. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, just in case you’ll need any of those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.