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Philly2Philly Movie Review: Extraordinary Measures


From the C-list acting performances, down to the flat cinematography to the pedestrian direction, Extraordinary Measures  is more or less amateur night at the movies. When the CBS logo pops up in the credits, it offers further validation; this may be a theatrical release, but would have been much more at home on the television screen. Extraordinary Measures

The movie, in essence, is one of those crowd pleasing "can't believe it's true" stories, with one man triumphing when pit against all odds. That man is John Crowley, (Brendan Fraser) who has two children suffering from the rare disease Pompe, which is slowly killing them. When John's daughter Meghan is hospitalized after an attack, doctors tell her she may have about a year left to live—which sends John into a frenzy.

It's alluded at the beginning of the film that he already had tracked down every single researcher of the disease in hopes of a cure, but after the hospitalization he veers into overdrive. His investigation leads him to the grumpy, brilliant Robert Stonehill, (Harrison Ford) who has done countless research on an enzyme he believes can cure Pompe, however, he needs more time and funding to prove the theory. After flying to the Midwest to meet the doctor, John desperately offers to donate funds of over $500,000 to Stonehill so that he can prove his experiment works.

Meanwhile, back at home, John and his wife Aileen (Keri Russell) struggle through fundraising to obtain the money necessary for treatment. After only raising a fraction, the doctor proposes they go into business together, pitching the cure to companies that will back them and provide even more money and facilities for testing. All the while, John's kids continue to fail medically as time runs out on all fronts.

Extraordinary Measures is a TV movie. It may in fact be a decent TV movie, maybe even a good one. But it's still a TV movie. True to his notion, director Tom Vaughan offers little in the way of style, but he does push things along effectively and sustains interest. He also practices more restraint when it comes to the sap and maudlin that commonly permeates these kinds of stories.

The problem lies in the fact that this is being passed off as a theatrical release, one that someone would pay $10 for, and in that regard, the movie doesn't cut it. Yes, as aforementioned, the direction is adequate, but subpar for a cinema experience. The performances are mostly bad. Brendan Fraser looks constipated in his emotional scenes. He doesn't have to give much because his character is more of an ox, but when he is required to show range, look out. Keri Russell is pretty flat as the wife figure, but granted she doesn't have much to do. Ford, however, takes the cake. His performance exhibits two qualities; rage and disdain. He's either yelling or looking aggravated, and though that does give the film some needed energy and gust, the performance remains shockingly two dimensional for an actor of this caliber.

With all that said, it would be incorrect to say that Extraordinary Measures isn't occasionally moving. The core story and just the amount of children who were helped from the outcome of Crowley's determination remains quite powerful. However, the film needed better performances and better direction to lift it above the typical, disease movie of the week trappings. As it stands, Extraordinary Measures is neither a success nor failure, but it's not worth spending money on. It's the kind of inoffensive, inconsequential movie that will feel right at home on the Hallmark Channel in a few years.