Outbreak (1995)

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Outbreak (1995)
Outbreak movie.jpg
Genre: Medical
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen
Written By: Laurance Dworet
Robert Roy Pool
Based On: The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
Starring: Dustin Hoffman
Morgan Freeman
Rene Russo
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Kevin Spacey
Donald Sutherland
Patrick Dempsey
Cinematography: Michael Ballhaus
Distributed By: Warner Bros.
Release Date: March 10, 1995
Runtime: 128 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $50 million
Box Office: $189.8 million

Outbreak is a 1995 medical disaster action drama film directed by Wolfgang Petersen and based on Richard Preston's 1994 nonfiction book The Hot Zone. The film stars Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Rene Russo, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland and Patrick Dempsey.


Army doctors struggle to find a cure for a deadly virus that's spreading throughout a Californian town that was brought to America by an escaped African monkey.

Why It Rocks

  1. The concept of a viral outbreak affecting a small town in California is pretty compelling.
  2. Very superb acting, especially from Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman and Cuba Gooding Jr., not only that but Kevin Spacey and Donald Sutherland's performances as Lt. Colonel Casey Schuler and Major General Donald McClintock were also fantastic.
    • Dustin Hoffman is awesome as Colonel Sam Daniels.
    • Morgan Freeman as Brigadier General Billy Ford is great.
    • Cuba Gooding Jr's. performance as Major Salt is passable.
    • Betsy the monkey is pretty cute, even though she unintentionally caused the pandemic.
    • An uncredited J.T. Walsh gives a decent performance as The White House Chief of Staff.
  3. Although it is meant to be a medical drama film, it does take a break from being a drama to have great action scenes during the subplots.
  4. James Newton Howard's score in the film, is fantastic as always, with a mix of suspense, enjoyment and drama throughout the movie, two years after he composed The Fugitive.
  5. Many intense moments, such as the family and the trio of men trying to escape from Cedar Creek.
  6. Most of death scenes are emotional and heartbreaking.
  7. Outstanding directing by Wolfgang Petersen.
  8. Fantastic cinematography that was well done by Michael Ballhaus.
  9. Very solid California location filming.
  10. Some great dialogue but not limited to:
    • "General, with all due respect, f**k you, sir."
    • "If you think I'm lying, drop the bomb. If you think I'm crazy, drop the bomb. But don't drop the bomb just because you're following orders!"
  11. Great ending, they stopped the town from being bombarded and found a cure for the pandemic, saving the residents.
  12. The special effects team used real helicopters and planes and Wolfgang Petersen had real pilots aide him and the special effects team on how to use them properly.
  13. The film has some good and well done pacing.

Bad Qualities

  1. Numerous scientific inaccuracies for the sake of entertainment.
  2. A few geographical errors and some anachronism:
    • Betsy is a Capuchin monkey living in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Africa, even though Capcuchin monkeys are native to tropical forests in Central and South America.
    • During the film's opening in 1967, which says Motaba Valley River, Zaire. Although the country was only renamed "Zaire" in 1971 just six years after Mobutu seized power.
  3. The story can be cliché and predictable at times.


Critical Response

The film received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. It currently holds a 59% on Rotten Tomatoes while Metacritic gave it a 65/100 indicating "generally favourable reviews." On IMDb, the film holds a 6.6/10. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a three-and-a-half out of four stars.

Box Office

On it's opening weekend it made $13.4 million in the U.S. In total the film grossed $67.6 million in North America and $122.2 million internationally. Overall, the film made $189.8 million worldwide against a budget of $50 million. The film was deemed a box office success.


  • Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey appeared on Se7en together in the same year this film was released.
  • When investigating the village in Zaire, several huts were burned down. This is a traditional tribal method for controlling the spread of an infection in many parts of the world. Food and water are left outside the entrance to the dwelling, and the occupants cannot leave.
  • Dustin Hoffman and Maya Angelou did uncredited work on the script, but most of their work went unused.




External Links



Declan Kearns

10 months ago
Score 0
This film is easily my favourite Dustin Hoffman movie.


8 months ago
Score 0
who's here from Friends? Outbreak 2: The Virius takes Manhattan

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