Carriers starts innocuously. The four principal characters could easily be the usual group of teens/twentysomethings on a road trip through the backroads. The carpet starts to be pulled out from under this assumption as they come across the vehicle with Chris Meloni and his daughter Kiernan Shipka and argument ensues about whether to stop and offer gas or, as Chris Pine urges, to keep on going, before they see the daughter hiding in the back with a bloodstained surgical mask and he accelerates away. The kicker comes when their car breaks down not far down the road and the only course of continuing on is having to go back to conduct a deal with Chris Meloni and drive off, albeit with Meloni and daughter quarantined with saran wrap covering the area between the backseat and the trunk space of the SUV and the others in the front.
From this point, Carriers becomes decidedly watchable. It is never more so than the scenes where they arrive at the school where Chris Meloni has been holding out hope for finding a cure, only to discover a tented area inside where doctor Mark Moses is tending a bunch of children before revealing he is infected too, there is no antidote and he is preparing to feed the kids poisoned Kool Aid to put them out of their misery. Meanwhile, back in the car, Piper Perabo is left tending young Kiernan Shipka when Kiernan to start choking and Piper has to make the decision to break the seal and go to her aid only for Kiernan to then cough blood all over her and Piper having to hide the bloodstained shirt and hurriedly replace the seal as the others return. The dramatic intensity of the situation doesnt end there with this being followed by the scene where Kiernan Shipka wants to go to the toilet and Chris Meloni cautiously decides to accompany her to the Port-a-Potties across the other side of the carpark in the full knowledge that Chris Pine is urging the others to drive off and leave them there, knowing that there is no supplies for survival in the town.
This tension continues through the rest of the film the seat edge scene where they arrive at a golf club and Chris Pine is fooling around on the diving board of the pool, cleaning the leaves out just as a dead body surfaces from under the water and he loses his balance and is left clinging to the underside of the board, desperately trying not to touch the infected water inches below him. The scene where they eventually discover that Piper Perabo is infected and the drama that ensues as they decide what to do is emotionally gruelling.
This is an incredibly good and well written film. Of particular strength, as much as the dramatic twists and turns that the story takes, are the characters. The film is essentially construed as dramatic conflict between the two brothers as they are forced to cooperate. Leading the party is Chris Pine. You have become used to Pine in roles like Star Trek (2009) and sequels and Wonder Woman (2017) where he has ployed his handsome good looks to romantic and leading man parts so it is unexpected to see him in a part where he is not an heroic type and is urging ruthlessly pragmatic decisions for the sake of their survival. Opposite him is Lou Taylor Pucci who comes across with liberal instincts and is constantly arguing against Pine for treating the others humanely. Many of the later sections of the film are about conflicting Chris Pines hard-headed ruthlessness against Lou Taylors liberal instincts and Lou having to face the consequences of his choices. The fact that a film about the conflict between two brothers is itself written by two brothers leaves you with some interesting speculation about how much of this is personal.