Outbreak (1995) Is Mostly Just Relevant

Given the current state of our world right now, I know most of us are doing our very best to stay safe and stay healthy as we navigate through the uncharted waters before us. With many of us stuck inside in self quarantine or because of social distancing to help prevent the spread of the corona virus, there’s certainly going to be an increase in movie and tv show watching at home. Thankfully I am still going to work until further notice, but I did make it a point to watch something somewhat relevant to our current situation. I was scrolling through Netflix when I came across this movie, Outbreak that I somehow heard of but had not actually watched ever. Without looking too much into it and checking to see how it was received and who all was in it, I just pressed play and went with it. Turns out, I have seen this movie at some point in my life, but I just don’t remember when. The biggest question of course is whether or not this movie is actually good or simply relevant to the current state of our world.

Through the first few minutes, it was fairly simple to see how the movie was going to play out. This movie is 25 years old so I apologize if you’re sensitive over some of the spoilers I’m going to be dropping here. It didn’t take long for me to see where the story was going and how the virus was going to come back years later and that the government was going to be behind a cover up of knowledge of the virus. Simply put, this movie is a standard cut and dry movie with nothing really to offer outside of its relevancy.

The biggest surprise through the first few minutes were the credits as I got to see who all was actually in this movie. Normally I wouldn’t list the whole cast, but for those who aren’t aware like I was then just read this cast and imagine how surprised I was with how stacked it was from going in blind. Dustin Hoffman, Renee Russo, Morgan Freeman (Okay, not too surprising yet) Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Patrick Dempsey…Tell me that this isn’t a surprisingly stacked cast that I didn’t know were all together in one movie. Now the actual quality of the movie doesn’t necessarily live up to the incredible cast involved, but I could see where having them certainly elevated the movie higher than what it could have been.

If you have seen a bunch of movies like I have and I’m sure many of you have, then you’ll start to notice when a movie definitely feels like a 70’s movie or an 80’s movie. This movie from start to finish feels like your typical kind of 90’s movie only solidified by Morgan Freeman’s role in the movie being his typical kind of role from that era. I won’t say that he has played that exact role on several occasions, but if you know what I mean when I say it feels like a typical 90’s movie with a typical Morgan Freeman then I haven’t lost you. The point of what I’m trying to say is that with this movie, you get what you see and nothing more. It’s not a best movie of the year or worst movie of the year, but very much your standard kind of popcorn movie.


The movie peaks as the virus begins to spread, but doesn’t extend past the peak which it hits early on in the film. The virus itself was an incredibly deadly and fast spreading virus that makes this movie more of a disaster movie than that of a pandemic movie. Unfortunately the disaster movie aspect never reaches its potential since it’s contained to a single town. I guess it makes sense though considering the movie was called “Outbreak” and not “Pandemic”. I think with how deadly the virus was, it could have been more interesting to just see the fall of the country rather than the fight for the cure, but I guess we get that with the movie Contagion or even World War Z.

I guess really when I think about how I feel about the movie, my mind automatically goes to comparing it with those other movies and then I realize that they did this movie better in every way. I think Contagion may be the most balanced of the three, but Outbreak simply doesn’t live up to what I was wanting it to be. It had momentum as the virus spread early on in the film but slowed down and sputtered as it became more of hunting down the monkey. The biggest issue this movie has is logic and carelessness. There are a lot of logic issues that go on, but the biggest one is with the monkey and Hoffman and Gooding Jr. trying to locate it.

It seems out there that these two guys would be able to steal a helicopter and travel as much as they did without being intercepted, but on top of that they were also able to locate a monkey that just happened to be found in enough time before the army blew the town away. If they had more time it would make sense, but given that there were only a few hours, it just didn’t work for me. The only other ridiculous thing than the monkey was the carelessness that every single person had in this movie. If something wrong could happen, it was going to happen.

The start of the spread really worked fine because of how it was spread through mucus to Dempsey or by being scratched like the shop owner was, but then it completely goes off the rails with our main characters. Kevin Spacey isn’t paying attention and tears his suit far too easy and of course doesn’t tell anyone. Then Renee Russo accidentally stabs herself with an infected needle. She’s a professional right? If those weren’t enough though then it was one of the first people to be infected. The lab tech that was testing that first vial of blood just happens to explode it all over his face. None of these events should have happened and only did for the sake of plot. There were many more ways they could’ve spread the virus in the movie without it being carelessness that doesn’t make sense. It was just hard to look past some of the careless writing in this movie.

Ultimately, Outbreak is a movie that serves best by being a movie relevant to the times. In this case it’s a fun movie to watch due to what is going on right now, but because it’s a bit ridiculous, it has more levity to our world and how things could be much worse. It’s just goofy enough to give a good laugh at our real world right now, but outside of watching it right now, the movie would not have any relevance and wouldn’t hold up when there are movies like it that do everything better. I enjoyed what it was without expecting too much and enjoyed watching the stacked cast, but by the end it really just made me want to watch Contagion and World War Z.

If you’re stuck at home and are looking for something to watch that is free and readily available then I would definitely give this movie a shot. Get your family together and get a little laugh out of the not so serious movie that this is. The most important thing is that everyone needs to stay safe, stay healthy, and make the best of the situation you’re in. If you’re home then escape the real world and watch some movies. If you have seen this movie and have comments or questions then be sure to comment below or send an email to us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @TowerCityMedia   

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