Movie Review: Extraordinary Measures

It appears that the best way for we movie folk to get quoted on the interwebs these days is by coming up with some withering one-liner. I’ll be the first to admit that my writing style doesn’t accommodate that approach – also, it feels like pandering – but let’s just say that “Extraordinary Measures” inspired me, as it were. So here goes: there is so much barking in this movie, you’d think it took place in a dog pound. Ta-dum, boom. Don’t forget to tip your bartenders and waitresses.

Brendan Fraser is John Crowley, an executive with Bristol Myers-Squibb and father of three. Two of his children have a rare neuromuscular condition called Pompe disease, and John is frustrated with his company’s efforts to find a cure. As he pores through research on the subject, he discovers the work of a visionary theorist (and cantankerous pill) named Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), but Bob’s department is too strapped for cash to get his work off the dry eraser board. The two agree to form a startup company and raise some venture capital to come up with a cure, but as the money runs out and clinical trials are still a ways off, the two soon find that this arrangement involves far more compromise than either had anticipated.

Good for Crowley and his efforts to secure funding for the R&D to tackle diseases like this, but the premise has ‘TV movie’ written all over it; as cynical as this sounds, the story simply isn’t sexy enough for the silver screen. The oddest part is that, despite Crowley’s children spending the entire movie in peril, the movie has no emotional heft. The acting didn’t help matters; Keri Russell was harmless enough, but Ford barked like a rabid dog. Fraser was, well, Fraser, and Jared Harris was not at all convincing as Crowley’s bureaucratic foil. Tom Vaughan’s direction didn’t fare much better, filled with clumsy supers of the various cities the story takes us and perplexing scenes like the one when Bob wants to use the restroom in the lobby of his new employers, and is denied. The scene, along with a few others, has no payoff; why, then, are they in the final cut?

“Extraordinary Measures” is a pretty inauspicious way to roll out the CBS Films banner for the first time in 38 years. It’s not an awful movie – it’s just not terribly inspired, despite its inspirational subject matter. If this pops up on TV the next time you’re flipping channels, then you’re seeing the movie the way it should have been originally intended.  

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)
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