Smooth Medicine

Main Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Probably one of the most fearsome monsters with which to do battle is the invisible virus. It strikes terror in even the strongest, because it is so small and so evil. And when it is as potent as the one in Outbreak, horrible for anyone to contemplate.

But some do. Hoffman plays an Army virologist named Sam Daniels, who along with his team (including Kevin Spacey, always mild mannered and fearsomely intelligent, and neophyte Gooding Jr.) trot around the globe in search of viruses to destroy. His home life is a bit rocky, with ex-wife Russo also an expert virologist working for the CDC.

The spread of the virus is shown through cut-away scenes of various people: how it got out of Africa and into the United States, until finally hitting a small town in California. Hoffman and his group try to play catch-up, tracking each case down while also avoiding the machinations of their higher-ups, who have their own agendas (Freeman and Donald Sutherland). The plot weaves smoothly in and out of the stories and I was satisfied that it all made logical sense. There were no major loopholes in the plot. Some people acted pretty stupid, but believably so.

This is a good, tense thriller that has a few surprises and a nice comradery between Hoffman and Gooding Jr. They manage to pull the hat out of the rabbit in the end – a far more difficult trick!  The thrill is to see how they manage it. And it’s pretty good viewing indeed.

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