Virus (I) (1996)

PG-13   |    |  Action, Thriller

Virus (1996) Poster

A United States Presidential bodyguard risks everything to save the day when a truck chock full of biological weapons contrives to crash in a National Park.


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30 October 2007 | vchimpanzee
Someone clean up this mess!
At a Prodichem chemical plant in New Jersey, there is an accident involving a secret biological warfare project. Only Alex Bur survives, and he contacts Leo Burns of the New York Tribune.

Alex is soon dead, but not before announcing he has a plan whose details are unknown.

At a press conference, President John Lawrence Wheeler and adviser Eric Black deny everything, but Black is actually in charge of the project, which President Wheeler knows nothing about.

Secret Service Agent Ken Fairchild, who showed his talent when the President appeared threatened at the press conference, is assigned to check out Thermal Wells National Park in advance of the One World Conference the President is attending. Fairchild ends up being a bumbling idiot in the great outdoors and must be rescued by veterinarian Dr. Larraine Keller. This is the first of several comic moments with these two.

Meanwhile, Ripley has been hired to transport a shipment from Prodichem. He is either drunk or crazy or both, and it is the same dangerous chemical from the accident earlier in the movie that he is delivering.

Can you guess where Ripley will end up?

There are some positive qualities in this movie. The scenery at Thermal Wells is beautiful, and that's with no snow at all. There are no camera shots from a distance with snow. Camp David is also beautiful. Most of the leading actors have a few good moments, but no one delivers a consistent performance. Daniel Kash as Ripley, Leah Pinsent as Lorraine and Chuck Shamata as Leo come the closest.

The stunt players do a good job, especially the one(s) playing Ripley. One sequence involving Ripley and his truck is actually quite well done, though far short of the gold standard of "Breakdown". I am curious about why the film quality is so different in part of the sequence; it's as if the rest of the film is videotaped and these shots are filmed. But it's effective.

And there is some excitement involving the truck and toward the end. It's actually enjoyable to watch our heroes work toward their goal, if you're not too picky about details and quality. The writing is halfway intelligent (geology experts might disagree) toward the end.

The real evidence that quality was not a priority: inconsistency. At Thermal Wells, everything is covered with snow in one scene, and the snow is still falling heavily. Then there is only a little snow. Then no snow has fallen at all. Then there is a little snow on the ground. then everything is covered again. Then the sky is perfectly clear and no snow has fallen anywhere. Oh, and let's not forget this: if a man and a woman are on a motorcycle, regardless of what has happened anywhere else, there MUST be just a little snow on the ground. This is explained (when nothing has happened yet that I can see): at high altitudes the weather changes quickly. One apparently doesn't need to travel far in this territory for drastic changes to take place. No one should have scheduled the One World Conference for someplace like this.

And then there are the medical inconsistencies. In the first scene, people die a gruesome, bloody death. So others can experience the same illness, appear dead, and end up recovering as if nothing has happened? Again, this is explained away.

If one doesn't get too picky, it is still possible to enjoy this movie. If for no other reason, to laugh at all its problems.

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