Review: Extraordinary Measures
PLOT: A father (Brendan Fraser) whose kids are dying of a rare genetic disorder, works with an anti-social scientist (Harrison Ford) , in order to develop a new medication that could save his childrens lives.
REVIEW: EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES should have been a compelling film. Its based on a true, fascinating story, involving a young corporate go-getter, John Crowley, who ditched his high paying job in order to gamble his saving on a start up bio-tech company, that would create a drug to treat Pompes Disease, a rare (1 in 300,000 births) neuromuscular disorder. He had good reason; two of his children were afflicted with the disease, and neither was expected to live past age six. Crowleys story is incredible and inspiring.
Sadly, the film is not
I think one of the big problems is the absolutely pedestrian execution. A few years ago, a film called FLASH OF GENIUS came out, which was another true story, this involving a man whos windshield wiper patent was stolen. THAT was a compelling film, as it had both an incredible story to tell, AND excellent execution and acting. This film has the first element, but totally lacks the other two.
This is the first release from CBS Films, which is an off-shoot of the major network, which nowadays seems to mostly run police procedurals like THE MENTALIST or CSI. This is a lot like those shows, in that its strictly by-the numbers, and doesnt push the envelope. Its directed in a very pedestrian, by-the-numbers fashion by Tom Vaughan, who also made the similarly uninspired WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS. Obviously, Vaughan studied films like LORENZOS OIL & PHENOMENON very closely, is this is derivative of both (it even ends with Eric Claptons Change The World- which was the latter films theme song). The film is totally given the movie-of-the-week treatment, which is a shame.
However, even if it had a better director, I still think this wouldnt have worked, due to the two leads, Brendan Fraser, and Harrison Ford. Frasers star has been on the decline for awhile now, and its obvious he doesnt have the same drive he once had. He gives a lazy performance, and, I gotta say- the guys REALLY let himself go over the last year or so. Hes pretty paunchy, and has a couple extra chins that werent there when he did the latest MUMMY film.
That said, Frasers incredible in this compared to Ford- who once again totally phones in his role. On the Joblo podcast, Moreno mentioned a youtube clip that was making the rounds, which is essentially Fords I already work around the clock!!! line from the trailer looped for ten minutes. This really gives you a good idea of how much credibility Fords lost over the years, with him being reduced to an internet joke. Once again, all the Ford trademarks that have crept into his performances since FIREWALL are on display, with him being completely dour, and humorless throughout, and looking like hed rather be anyplace but in front of the camera acting in yet another film, which, more and more, seems to be something he despises.
Now, I hate to seem like Im beating up on Ford. The guys one of my idols, and I grew up not only watching him in STAR WARS, or as INDIANA JONES, Jack Ryan, THE FUGITIVE, etc., but also in films like WITNESS, and THE MOSQUITO COAST. Hes incredibly talented, and one of the truly iconic actors of our generation. The thing is, somewhere down the line, Ford seemed to stop caring, and other than a solid performance in the last INDIANA JONES (wasnt a good film, but he was great), he hasnt done anything noteworthy since AIR FORCE ONE (or maybe even further back then that).
In the end, EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES is truly a missed opportunity. The story was there, as was a solid supporting cast (Keri Russell, Courtney B. Vance, and Jared Harris all do excellent work in their limited screen time)- but the film lacked good direction, or stars that gave a damn. What a shame, as this could have been a great one
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