Directed by Tom Vaughan
Written by Robert Nelson Jacobs
My buddy from work had free passes and since I was on the fence in wanting to see this, I accepted. I’m glad I did. Not because it was a great film, or even a terrible film, but because it was a film of the moment. What director Tom Vaughan (What Happens in Vegas) has brought to the table early on in this new year of film is not something significant, not something that will be remembered by the end of the year, but something that is also not bankrupt. Although Vaughan himself brings very little to the table in way of direction (there are maybe one or two interesting things he does throughout the film), Extraordinary Measures is a film with heart.
The story consists of a father of three children, two of which have the debilitating and soon fatal disease of Pompe, of which I know very little about. John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) is an executive at Bristol-Myers Squibb who researches and hears about revolutionary research being conducted by Dr. Stonehill (Harrison Ford) at the University of Nebraska. He pursues him and, with him, does all that he can to find the cure for this terrible disease that his children regrettably have. The performances are generally fairly bland. Brendan Fraser is the worst of the bunch. The performance he turns in here might likely be the worst of 2010 when all is said and done. I love the dude. He is so much fun and at the same time so much bad. He should stick to the fun, campy, adventure stuff. Harrison Ford is solid, but I think the best performance was from Keri Russell and her limited screen time. She plays the wife of Crowley, Aileen. Although nothing to write home about, she is nice to watch and turns in a solid performance.
As far as some of the things going on in the film, there was some wasted time, especially early on in the film. I felt like the camera just lingered and there was too much set-up to a scene when time could have been spent expanding other pieces of the story that could have been valuable or cinematic. There is even a scene where Dr. Stonehill briefly describes the disease to John. I get why it’s there, for the audience to learn, but clearly John already knows all about the disease. There are a handful of scenes like this that make the film as average as it is. But what I found interesting was the character of John Crowley. The film is set-up to make him the hero, but he isn’t the traditional hero. He has two children with a terrible disease and on their deathbeds, so what can he do? He has two options: spend what time his children have left with them, living every moment just to love them and be there with them. His other option is the one less traveled and the one he eventually took. That option is to do everything he could to find a cure and save his children, so that they might have the rest of their lives together. This was a very risky choice because the chances of finding that cure, and in enough time, was minuscule and it also meant being away from his wife and children, working around the clock.
John Crowley was, and is, a man who can be championed for his heart and desire to save his children. But at the same time he played the system somewhat. He was a little bit selfish, but who can blame him? If anyone of us were put in his situation, with our children close to death, wouldn’t we do everything we could, even if it meant maybe being selfish? I don’t blame him because while being selfish, he was selfless, doing all he could for his children and, eventually, all children with Pompe, and their families. If you didn’t want to see this, you probably still don’t. If you wanted to see it, I say see it. And if you’re on the fence, I’d say if you are prepared to see some bad things, just for the payoff of the heart of the film, then see it. Otherwise, it is a film that can be skipped because, honestly, by the end of the year it will seem very middling. But for now, it’s not, at least to me.