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Outbreak ★★★ 1994 (R)

Smuggled African monkey spits on someone who kisses someone else who sneezes on a bunch of people, thus initiating the spread of a highly infectious mystery disease in a northern California ‘burb. Hoffman leads a team of scientists in a search for the antiserum, but it's a secret government plot to exterminate the victims that literally sends Hoffman and crew into action movie cliche overdrive (add “helicopter” to the list of chase scene vehicles). Not that that's so bad—if the beat-the-clock tempo doesn't grab you, paranoia certainly will. But Hoffman's hardly a threat to Arnold or Sylvester as the next action hero, and the talented Russo remains suspiciously ravishing even with festering pustules. Based on two books: Richard Preston's “The Hot Zone” and Laurie Garrett's “The Coming Plague.” 128m/C VHS, DVD . Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Donald Sutherland, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kevin Spacey, J.T. Walsh, Dale Dye; D: Wolfgang Petersen; W: Laurence Dworet, Robert Roy Pool; C: Michael Ballhaus; M: James Newton Howard. N.Y. Film Critics ‘95: Support. Actor (Spacey).

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