Friday, July 19, 2013

Old Movie Review - Contaminated Man (2000)

I saw Contaminated Man years ago, on HBO I think it was.  And I remember it being quite good.  So I'm rewatching it on NetFLix, and I decide to write up a review on it, and what do I find?  Generally bad reviews and a 4.8 on IMDB's ranking system.  Why?  I really don't know.  I thought the movie was well done, the acting good, the drama pretty much starts immediately and proceeds on through almost the entire movie.  I read one review where they said the near-misses and close calls seemed to drag on and on.  What, you want an hour and a half of lead-up and 5 minutes of action?  What kind of movie is that, a movie for people with miniscule attention spans?  I don't know.  One of the reviewers said this is a thinking man's thriller and I guess maybe I am a thinking man because I enjoyed it.  Anyway, let me sum up the plot.

Whitman (William Hurt) is on his way home to his wife and daughter.  Hoping to surprise his wife, he sneaks in on her early while talking to her on the phone and finds she's lying to him.  No, she's not having an affair with another man, she's just not dressed in a slinky black thong.  Which, would have been a nice sight, but eh, there is no nudity in this movie.  So after giving her a nice smooch and a hug and promising to meet her in the bedroom for some hanky panky, he goes up and kisses his daughter good night.  And that's when he hears his wife choking downstairs.  He rushes down to her.  She's having some sort of seizure.  She can't breathe.  Within seconds, she is dead.  And that's when Whitman sees his hands are blistered.  As if by some chemical.  You quickly come to the horrible realization that Whitman has just caused his own wife's death by accidental biochemical exposure, and then...  you hear coughing from upstairs.  From Whitman's daughter's room...

Flash forward 15 years later.  A disgruntled employee named Muller (Peter Weller of Robocop fame) sneaks into his workplace to talk to his boss about getting his job back.  His workplace is a secure facility in germany, or perhaps hungary?  I never really figured it out.  The ex-employee follows his boss into a biohazard area, quickly sneaking in through the closing doors.  Muller just wants his job back.  They've sacked him after 23 years and if he loses his job, he can't pay his alimony and he will no longer be allowed visitation rights to see his ex wife and young son.  Muller's boss quickly realizes, they have a disgruntled ex-employee in a secret biohazard area, and hits the panic button.  Guards rush in.  In the ensuing chaos, shit gets broke, and everyone in the room gets exposed to chemicals.  Most of them die.  Somehow, Muller's luck holds.  He walks out alive.  And thus begins the journey of...  The Contaminated Man.

So what we have here is basically a political / terrorist / biohazard scenario that starts within minutes of the opening credits and follows through right til the end.  There was a movie with Andrew McCarthy called Night of the Running Man (1995).  In it, McCarthy plays a taxi driver who has a bit of an unlucky night when a cab fare dies in the back of his cab.  Assassinated by the mob, the dead guy has been stealing from a casino, and somehow, McCarthy winds up with the stolen money and proceeds to have the luckiest / unluckiest series of close calls and escapes and bad luck that I have ever seen in one movie.  Contaminated Man is a lot like that one.  Muller is one lucky sonofabitch, taking advantage of a series of security holes and having a mix of the worst luck one man can hope to have.  At one point, he's got like $5 and he needs money for a train ride home.  So he goes into a casino and sits down at the Roulette table, where a wealthy but badly losing man has placed bets on every space at the table but Red 30.  So Muller drops his $5 on Red 30.  And guess what number comes up?  NO, not Black 4.  Dumbass.  So anyway, Muller is a lot like Mccarthy.  He's just goddamn lucky enough to escape repeatedly, but never lucky enough to get away clean, which leaves the chase going through the whole movie.  If that's not action, suspense and tension, I don't know what is.

Obviously I've seen this movie more than once.  Again, I don't get why it's rated so low.  Maybe someone else out there can give it a watch or two and let me know.  Hurt plays the hero, natasha mcElhone plays the love interest, Weller plays the title character, and there's even a thoroughly despicable villain that I wanted to kill almost from the minute I met him!  How can you not like this movie?  There's not many explosions but there's lots of dying, frothy, blood-gushing contaminated deaths, bullets flying all over, even some minor fisticuffs at one point, if you can call a short brawl with the villain that, and what's not to like about all that?  Sounds fun to me.  Plus, there's not even anything remotely impossible about this movie.  None of the escapes or close calls are even close to being unbelievable.  No one rides a motorcycle off the top of a building and lands in a rooftop pool one building over, like in True Lies, and yet THAT movie was a blockbuster.  This movie, with a completely normal series of events and explainable catastrophes, is rated badly.  I just don't get it.  Maybe it's not totally outrageous enough to garner attention, but I thought it was a good thriller.

Anyway, Contaminated Man is on NetFlix.  It's not being taken down anytime soon as far as I can tell, so you have time to go watch it.  In other news, there's a storm heading in tonight.  Wheeee!  I love storms.  At least I hope there's a decent thunder and lightning storm.  Too often the weathermen, who seem less able to predict the weather than look geeky on TV, are wrong about weather in my area, and they are predicting the storm, so if their track record holds then we'll have sunshine and calm weather.  lol  If they are right this one time, then we should have a decent fireworks display provided by Mother Nature.

I remember this one time I was sitting by my window, awaiting another coming storm.  Just sitting there playing computer games, like usual, and a tiny rumble of thunder broke the early evening silence.  And then... nothing.  I was upset.  Too many times had I been eagerly awaiting a forecast storm, and been DENIED.  I was angry.  I turned to the open window and jokingly exclaimed "Shit!  Is that the best you can do, Mother Nature?"  To which, Mother Nature immediately responded with the loudest, longest and most horrifying squeal of rumbling thunder I have ever heard in my life.  And then proceeded to have it thunder and lightning almost constantly for the NEXT FIVE HOURS.  I may have peed myself.  Just a little.  Moral of the story, don't sass Mother Nature.  She'll put you down, sure as the turning of the world, as Mal used to say.

That's all for now, people.  I'm still angry about NetFlix stealing my lesbians.  It sounds like one of those "cable is bad" commercials, doesn't it?  "Don't let NetFlix steal your lesbians!  Switch to Direct TV!"  lol  I had directTV and the satellite would go out every goddamn time a storm came in.  Oh, AND during the winter when the dish got iced up or snowed over.  One year I had to go out with pots of hot water and melt the ice off the damn dish, which was on my ROOF, mind you, just so I could have TV back.  I think I'll stick with my cable and let Netflix have my lesbians.  lol  Til next time.  :-)

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