Outbreak: Virus Thriller, Starring Dustin Hoffman as Action Hero

It’s easier to enjoy, or rather tolerate, the virus thriller “Outbreak” once you accept two-time Oscar-winner Dustin Hoffman as a legit action hero, who can be as tough as they come.

Too bad that the narrative is such a conventional melodrama in depicting the fight of the little man, the humanist Hoffman, against the military machine, represented by the cynical and nihilist man(Donald Sutherland, also not associated with this genre).

In more than a few scenes, “Outbreak” feels like a pale imitation of classic 1950s sci-fi features, such as “Invasion of Body Snatchers.”

The threatening force here is not a pod or an alien, but the Motaba virus.  The movie might have been ahead of its time in depicting the lethal impact of a virus like Ebola, and a few scenes, like a man coughing in a crowded movie house is both scary and prophetic.