Jaw dropping in its storytelling, execution and movie going thrills, CONTACT is in my all-time Top 100 films.
Jodie Foster is Dr. Ellie Arroway. Since she was a child, she has had a passion for communicating with the far reaches of space, looking for any sign of intelligent life.
As a member of the government's SETI program, she discovers a message from deep space. The movie immediately launches into a surprising and exciting tale that never lets up over its fast paced 150 minute running time.
In flashbacks, we see the roots of Ellie's fascination, inspired by her father Ted (David Morse from "World War Z" and "True Detective) who dies when she is just 9 years old, but commands a presence throughout her life.
Writers James V. Hart (Bram Stoker's Dracula) and Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) craft a story with many twists, including one of my all-time favorites delivered by the legendary John Hurt (Alien) as S.R. Hadden, a billionaire industrialist as anxious to learn what's out there as Ellie is.
Protagonists and villains abound, often changing roles as the story reveals itself.
Tom Skerritt (Top Gun, The Dead Zone) is Ellie's boss David Drumlin, who scoffs at the potential of alien life, but is the first to grandstand on Ellie's work. Matthew McConaughey is Palmer Joss, a former lover and looming religious figure whose feelings on faith and its role in the universe will influence Ellie's path.
James Woods (Casino, Against All Odds) stands out as a Senator grandstanding on the discovery.
Director Robert Zemeckis (Castaway, Back to the Future) crafts one of his finest films, showing his career-long talent for blending cutting edge special effects and personal stories.
Based on the book by Carl Sagan, every frame of the film is committed to making its experience absolutely real. Watching Ellie board the transport in the last 30 minutes of the film, the immense mass of the setting is conveyed with near perfect sound mix and visuals that shock you in scale.
Lesser filmmakers would never have been able to deliver on the promise of the journey and contact with another world, but Zemeckis and team deliver flawlessly here. The only other film I can think of that managed to deliver in a similar fashion is Alex Garland's criminally under seen 2018 sci-fi drama "Annihilation". It would make a hell of a flip-side to a double feature.
CONTACT delivers emotion, excitement and plenty of twists on its way to a powerful and moving final act. Foster delivers one of the best performances of her amazing career, her final testimony in front of the panel is heart wrenching.
If you've never seen CONTACT, I envy you experiencing it for the first time. If you haven't seen it in awhile, revisit it and experience the thrills all over again, time has not faded any of its brilliance.
CONTACT gets an A+.