Virus (1999)R


Not to be confused with the Japanese Virus from 1980, a.k.a. Fukkatsu No Hi, starring George Kennedy. (Yes, that’s right, George Kennedy once starred in a Japanese disaster movie!)

Jamie Lee Curtis and some Baldwin or other fight a Borg-like menace from space... not a virus, but something which thinks we are a virus. Fortunately for the rest of us, the place where the alien menace has come down to our fair world is on a ship at sea, which gives them a fighting chance to stop it from spreading. Meanwhile, the thing is steadily turning more and more parts of the ship into extensions of itself. Including the crew.

The action (and yeah, it’s an action movie) is along fairly standard lines: a colorful crew gets whittled down until only a desperate few are left, with plenty of noise and danger and one guy going bad. But it is a surprisingly tight and well done thriller, for all that. The characters are well drawn, and the film gets you caring about them right away, even those who don’t speak English and don’t survive the first five minutes — a feat plenty of crappy action movies could learn something from. The pacing is suitably intense, and the alien menace is suitably menacing.

The one area where the movie has a definite weakness is the creature effects used for the robots and cyborgs that the invader attacks people with. Not only are they less convincing than they should be (especially the small ones), but their design owes too much to already familiar menaces — particularly, in the case of the ones made from human bodies, the Borg from Star Trek. In other areas, everything is solid and thorough, with no cheaping out on heavy equipment, large-scale wreckage, or pyrotechnics.

There’s nothing wrong with the performances either... though Donald Sutherland’s Irish accent may get your eyebrows moving around.