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Critic's Pick

'Outbreak'

February 25, 1996|Peter Rainer

Even though this 1995 film is grounded in some very real global fears about viral crises-in-waiting, it quickly mutates into an action-adventure. The mystery virus--nicknamed motaba-- first turns up in 1967 in a mercenary camp in Africa. Next thing you know the village and all its inhabitants are mysteriously nuked. Cut to the present: The virus is back and Zaire's got it. Col. Sam Daniels, M.D. (Dustin Hoffman, pictured), is sent into the African rain forest to check out the damage by Gen. Billy Ford (Morgan Freeman), his longtime friend and commanding officer. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, "Outbreak" has its eco-advocacy side: Messing with the rain forest unleashes plagues. But the preposterousness of the plot tends to turn everything, even the very real dangers of rogue viruses, into science-fiction (HBO Saturday at 8 p.m.).

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