It’s always a bit of a struggle to have an unbiased opinion of a film based on a heartbreaking true story. We wanted to feel inspired by Extrordinary Measures, but try as we might, there’s just no getting around the fact that this is schmaltzy, made-for-tv rubbish, with two pretty dull performances from leads Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser. Sorry. Now down to hell we go.
From The Page To The Screen
Evidently, Extraordinary Measures started out with very good intentions; trying to bring to life the book The Cure by Geeta Anand, showing us a real-life battle against adversity. But sadly, the script doesn’t have the neccesary force to generate any other emotion except mild discomfort and long stretches of boredom. It’s a mystery why on earth meag-stars Ford and Fraser signed up in the first place, when clearly this is a script much more suited to the small screen. Tom Vaughan’s film feels considerably longer than 106 minutes, and it lacks a rousing resolution to threaten a few tears from the more easily pleased sections of the audience.
Tackling The Issues
John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) is a rising star in corporate America with a beautiful wife Aileen (Keri Russell) and three children: John Jr (Sam Hall), eight-year-old Megan (Meredith Droeger) and six-year-old Patrick (Diego Velazquez). The two youngest are born with the rare and degenerative Pompe Disease, which weakens muscles and causes the body to shut down gradually. John’s high-powered and demanding job keeps him from his loved ones, but the money he brings in is vital to meet the spiralling medical costs. When the stress of his personal and professional life finally becomes too great, John is forced to walk out on his job to chase the impossible dream of a cure for the disease by teaming up with unconventional scientist, Dr Robert Stonehill (Ford). The medic has a daring theory, but needs half a million dollars to fund his research, and then the backing of a bio-tech company to manufacture the treatment. However, all research takes time and that is the one thing the Crowleys do not have.
Sometimes Story Isn’t Enough
Extraordinary Measures ticks all of the tear-jerk boxes, opening with the joy of Megan’s eighth birthday celebrations, then follows the girl as the disease slowly takes hold of her body and brings her to the brink of death. Fraser and Russell alternate between angry and teary-eyed as they ponder the best course of action, knowing that they hold their children’s lives in their trembling hands: “Do we accept our fate and wait for the worst to happen, or do we fight it?”; Ford is suitably gruff, rebelling against the money men who want to make a small fortune off his years of meticulous research. It’s an amazing story in its own right, but this film does it no favours. Sorry, Extraordinary Measures, but the emphasis is firmly on the ordinary.