If a mysterious disease ever starts spreading through our town, I hope someone like the courageous veterinarian in Pandemic is around to investigate its causes. Sydney Stevens, portrayed forcefully by Alesha Clarke, is bound and determined to find out what’s behind a terrifying pandemic where humans and animals in her community are stricken with a horrible contagious illness. Unfortunately for Sydney, our tough heroine faces a series of alarming obstacles in this exciting thriller directed by Jason Connery.
The first barrier to Sydney’s mission comes when the military, under the command of General Matthews (Ray Wise), quarantines the area. Next, all communications in or out of the area are cut off. And finally, Sydney feels compelled to join forces with Spenser (Peter Holden), an eccentric conspiracy theorist, who wants to help her. I can't help feeling that Spenser would NOT have been her first choice for a partner! He’s difficult to work with, and Sydney suspects he’s keeping secrets from her. Still, both members of this unlikely duo realize they must discover the true source of the threat and expose it. If they fail, devastating worldwide consequences will result.
Pandemic emerges as an impressive directing debut for Connery, who boasts extensive experience as an actor in films and on television, including the starring role of Robin Hood in the UK Robin of Sherwood series. (As the son of Sean Connery and Diane Cilento, he definitely inherited the acting gene.) Connery moves this timely film along at just the right pace while building considerable suspense concerning how the story (written by Aaron Pope) will end.
Acting honors go to Clarke (TV’s Port Charles) and Wise (Good Night and Good Luck), especially for their combative scenes together. Wise, who’s played so many diverse roles on film and TV, always delivers a fine performance. In Pandemic, he endows General Matthews with a fascinating combination of dignity and a bit of the Devil from The Reaper. And Clarke is an excellent match for him as their characters clash over how to deal with such a horrifying situation.
Although not completely satisfied with the way Pandemic ends, I was intrigued with the movie throughout. Production values, including imposing background music by Christian Henson and atmospheric cinematography by Miguel Bunster, are first-rate. It’s a well-made, thought-provoking film, one I recommend highly for action thriller fans.
(Released by Mti Home Video and rated “R” for language, some violence and disturbing images.)