Rated PG; Directed by Tom Vaughan; Starring Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford, Keri Russell, Meredith Droeger
There are some movies that lift a tired idea to new heights and offer a fresh look on a familiar film genre. Unfortunately, Extraordinary Measures is not one of these movies. You can see something like this on any TV channel that shows “disease of the week” movies. Of course, most of those films do not have Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser as its stars.
Brendan Fraser plays John Crowley, desperate father of two children who suffer from a deadly disease. His kids, Megan and Patrick, will not last much longer, as the disease is weakening them. John’s only hope is that the theories of Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford) could lead to a cure. Stonehill is an academic who has the science skills but not the business know-how. Though Stonehill is an irascible genius and John an emotional father, the two team up, winning the attentions of a large biotech corporation, but John’s desperation and Stonehill’s personality may not get them far enough.
Loosely based on true events, the plot has the usual elements, with some interesting moments as the two leads must fight corporate politics to achieve their aims. Yet, overall, the film is weak. The two leads, Ford and Fraser, don’t make their characters come alive. In fact, Harrison Ford is unbelievable as a driven scientist with a quick temper. Neither Ford or Fraser, nor Keri Russell as John’s wife, are served well by the script. They are given big emotional scenes where they must emote heavily, but their performances never ring true. The film moves in fits and starts and has some puzzling plot developments also hinder any natural flow to the story. And yes, there are the required emotional scenes of sick children in hospital beds, but it comes across as more manipulative than heartfelt.
It must be hard for Hollywood to come up with a new twist to an old story, but it would be nice if they at least made an effort. Harrison Ford produced this so he must have thought that the story offered something worthwhile. Too bad. It’s not that the movie is a stinker, but it’s just not that good. So even with big-name actors, the movie achieves nothing special. It is just another disease-of-the-week film, but made for the big screen. Play it smart and wait until it is out on DVD. The small screen is where this movie belongs.