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DVD Review

DVD cover

Patient Zero

Starring: Matt Smith, Natalie Dormer, Clive Standen, Agyness Deyn and Stanley Tucci
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 22 October 2018

The world – or at least America – is in chaos. A viral super-strain has affected an increasing percentage of the population; turning them into unthinking, unfeeling ravenous creatures. Below ground is a large bunker harbouring a combination of civilians, military personnel, and medical/bacterial scientists. The objective is to trace the origin of the outbreak and find ‘patient zero’ from whom they can derive a vaccine cure. Morgan is more than a curiosity; he is the only person known to have been bitten and not turned. His blood is used to experiment with rats and former human studies. His own infected partner is injected on a daily basis. But that isn’t his only ability. He can communicate with the infected. One-by-one the ‘patients’ are brought in and grilled by Morgan. However, it seems the creatures are also looking for Morgan, which seems to suggest intelligence and planning. Then a creature nicknamed ‘The Professor’ is brought in and all hell breaks loose...

Former Doctor Who Matt Smith normally has a wonderful, crazy, eccentric exuberance. Great personality, character and verve. Can you guess where this is going? This appears to be an American movie filmed in part here at Shepperton Studios in Middlesex – with input from the British Film Institute, the British Film Commission and Film London. So… why, oh, why would you cast a very good expressive actor like Matt Smith and force him to talk in a dodgy American accent, complete with a multitude of ‘Goddamns’ ‘assholes’ and other expletives?! It’s tantamount to employing Simon Callow and having him sit, unspeaking, in a box with his back to the camera (not that Callow would accept such a role). Consequentially, Smith is pretty dulled-down. He is simply not allowed to shine at all, and it’s so disappointing.

There are some nice moments, one being the naming of the ‘patients’. Morgan has one of them brought in and secured tightly to a metal mounted chair. He selects an old vinyl record and plays it on a turntable, as it commonly disturbs the infected. Thus we get ‘Joe Cocker’ and ‘Pete Townsend’. Also, the idea of a tracker sewn into the torso of a creature is a good one. It leads to ‘The Professor’ who can reason and debate; who actually believes his new species to be the highest on the evolutionary ladder. Thus Morgan is their patient zero.

In many ways Gina (played by Natalie Dormer) is a more believable character than Morgan. However, no matter how much she is attracted to him, why would an intelligent scientist have sex with someone who has been bitten? Even though he’s still human, surely she would still harbour a fear of the infection being passed on. The film is watchable, but won’t win any prizes for excitement or originality. Essentially, it’s one of a million zombie films. The ending has all the infected running after a fleeing motorcycle. You would have to wonder when the riders would have a chance to rest or get fuel – unless they can escape across water to a safe haven. In that sense it’s a thought-provoking conclusion.

I still can’t get past what director Stefan Ruzowitzky has done with Matt Smith’s acting skills. It’s as if he was obliged to leave them at the door.


Ty Power

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