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With: Natalie Dormer, Stanley Tucci, Matt Smith, Clive Standen, Agyness Deyn, John Bradley
Written by: Mike Le
Directed by: Stefan Ruzowitzky
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, language, and some sexual content
Running Time: 90
Date: 09/14/2018
IMDB

Patient Zero (2018)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Out Sick

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This quasi-zombie/action movie eventually wanders cluelessly off track, but, as it consists mainly of yelling, sudden loud noises, and camera-shaking, it becomes aggravating long before that happens.

In Patient Zero, an outbreak of a rabies-like virus has turned millions into "The Infected." In an underground bunker, the military stands guard while a group of scientists, led by Dr. Gina Rose (Natalie Dormer), try to find a cure. A former schoolteacher-turned-record store owner, Morgan (Matt Smith), was bit but did not turn; his unique situation allows him to communicate with the Infected.

He questions them and tries to find Patient Zero, the first Infected, whose blood they hope to use as a serum. Just when they think they know everything about these violent creatures, in comes an Infected known only as "the professor" (Stanley Tucci). He seems smarter than the others, capable of deceit. He even asserts that the Infected are actually more evolved, and that this is the future. Can Morgan hang onto his humanity?

Filmed three years ago, Patient Zero was shelved and delayed and re-scheduled several times before it finally saw the light of day. (Like that old Hollywood joke, it wasn't released, it escaped.) It's not clear whether there were reshoots or if it was just an unpolished screenplay, but the entire concept of "patient zero," and the entire theme of the movie, are simply tossed away in the third act.

Additionally, the dialogue is frequently overwritten and over-explanatory. The main character speaks opening and closing narration that is positively eye-rolling, perhaps in an effort to tie things together.

Director Stefan Ruzowitzky (All the Queen's Men, The Counterfeiters, Deadfall) seems entirely unsuited to this movie, unsure of how to generate suspense or tingles, so he keeps the camera wobbling, punctuates attacks with loud, sudden bangs, and instructs everyone to shout, or in Tucci's case, mug for the camera. (Fortunately, Tucci is good at mugging, and his performance offers the only fun to be had.)

Overall, this stuff is all old hat, done already in a dozen zombie movies, and Patient Zero feels like a cheap, oblivious attempt to join in on the craze.

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