Harrison Ford is one of my acting heroes, there wasn’t a day that passed in my youth that I didn’t want to be either Han Solo or Indiana Jones when playing with my friends at home or in school and it fills with with dread watching one of his new movies and seeing this once iconic actor let down by a terrible script and direction.
Extraordinary Measures carries on that trend giving Ford some crappy lines and opportunities to overact in a Tv movie type film loosely based on a true story that’s beefed up with so many additional plot points that it just doesn’t work as a fluent structured film or an overly enjoyable one at that.
Brendan Frasier plays John Crowley, a successful business man who gives up everything to pursue a cure for a disease called Pompe that has developed in two of his children. Crowley seeks out Dr. Robert Stonehill (Ford) an eccentric and rebellious scientist whose theories of a cure are the most advanced from the research Crowley has done into cures for the condition. Crowley convinces Stonehill to help by promising a large amount of money in funding that he attempts to raise in charity work which in turn leads to the pair gaining a loan from a bank where they create a small pharmaceutical company to develop a drug to cure Pompe that in turn leads to their pharmaceutical company being bought by a huge biotechnological firm for millions of pounds and becoming part of the business.
It all seems to happen very quickly illogically and with little explanation of how it goes from just an idea to the pair becoming millionaires and having vital roles at a multi-million pound company. It’s clear that this part of the film is about how the procedure of medical research and development can both enable and obstruct progress which is where Dr.Stonehill’s role is most prominent and Cowley’s anguish reaches its peak as the Bio-tech company stiffles progress making the two question if they did the right thing. But of course like the Tag line for Extraordinary Measures states “Don’t hope for a miracle, Make one” it’s a pretty predictable ending.
The film does have a touching sentimental side with the Crowley family struggling to deal with the deteriorating condition of their children and the race to find a cure but at times it is almost nauseating especially when Brendan Frasier hits the over the top emotional acting button alongside wife Aileen (Keri Russel) who handles these scenes a little better. The family drama is a much needed variety in plot from the business minded focus that dictates a majority of the film but for me using showing deteriorating kids in wheelchairs isn’t enough to if not supported by meaningful dialogue or acting to hit home the emotional impact of the situation.
On the plus side there is the enjoyable to watch Jared Harris who plays Dr. Kent Webber who is perceived as the biotech executive villain and the representation of the way of doing business that both Crowley and Stonehill must battle with, even though he seems like a mean and heartless bureaucrat who dictates that experiments and clinical trials are conducted by the book he is a satisfying character who had most depth and presence in the film.
The fact the film is based on a true story that is incredible and inspiring but I couldn’t believe more than 25% of it was fact and I doubt the film would have made it’s way into theatres if it wasn’t for the cast and Ford Executive producing. I still enjoyed seeing Ford on screen again even though it wasn’t anything magical or award winning but he does have something about him that will get people into cinemas, it is a tear jerker, it is an interesting story but for me it’s nothing more than an average film and struggled to get that high.
Extraordinary Measures is out this Friday 26th.