The Contaminated Man (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Well, you have to say that those made-for-cable flicks are acquiring a patina of real class. In fact, they now seem to be the training ground for some top-notch talent.

This one was filmed on location in Budapest, in some enchanting locales, including both interiors and exteriors. It stars William Hurt, Robocop, and a distinguished European cast (including babes like Desiree Nosbusch, Katya Woywood, and Natascha McElhone). It was written and directed by Anthony Hickox, the second generation British director whose last writer/director project was Prince Valiant, with Katherine Heigl.

Robocop plays The Contaminated Man, a disgruntled East German who was relocated to Hungary by his employer and subsequently laid off, after 20 years with the same chemical manufacturer. In the process of asking for a fair hearing on his case, he accidentally causes an industrial accident that turns him into a walking plague. Anyone that he touches dies within minutes.

William Hurt plays the scientist investigating the case, and the central conflict is whether Hurt can get to the guy with an antitoxin before the counter-terrorism guys can shoot him. You see, Hurt realizes that Contam is just a guy who lost his job and caused an accident, but the law enforcement people think that ol' Robocop is a terrorist who deliberately turned himself into a human time bomb. Poor Robocop actually feels fine himself, and is just wandering around trying to take some toys to his family. 


I sure got nostalgic for Pest while I watched it, but you know how that is when you see your neighborhood up there on the screen. Despite some locales within walking distance of my old home, I had a hard time making it through the whole movie. The script really let them down here. It bored me, for one thing, and for another, everyone Robocop touches dies  - except Hurt and Natascha McElhone. Gee, how convenient. In addition, there is something wrong with the DVD mastering. Watching the entire film is an experience like trying to watch a TV in a steamed-up bathroom, and the aspect ratio also seems to be messed up. No matter what adjustments I made, the characters seemed to be very narrow.

One other issue, maybe minor, maybe not. They didn't film the movie in chronological sequence, which is always a hazard in the winter in Central Europe. Although the movie takes place over a very short time, maybe two days, snow appears, disappears, appears again, disappears again .....

The plodding film does have an excellent final ten minutes, with two fairly unpredictable plot twists, but you'll be lucky to last to the end. It's just boring.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen

  • no features

Not recommended. These guys have a lot to learn about making a worthwhile DVD 

As it happens, I saw this film the same day as The Perfect Storm, another made-for-cable, and this one really came out on the short end of the stick. Although this movie is really just as good, The Perfect Storm is in a beautifully photographed 2.35:1 version perfectly mastered to DVD with director's comments and special features, while this one is hazy, with an incorrect aspect ratio, no widescreen version, and no features at all.

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.8
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. OK cast, good location shots, spoiled by technical problems and a script with no surprises until the last couple minutes.

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