Extraordinary Measures (PG)

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Review byMatthew Turner26/02/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Watchable, if predictably sentimental disease-of-the-week drama, enlivened by strong performances from Fraser and Ford.

What's it all about?
Directed by Tom Vaughan, Extraordinary Measures (not to be confused with Hugh Grant thriller Extreme Measures) is based on a true story and stars Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell as John and Aileen Crowley, the parents of two wheelchair-bound children (Meredith Droeger and Diego Velazquez) with Pompe Disease, a variation on muscular dystrophy that leads to a distressingly low life expectancy. When John learns of the innovative theories of Doctor Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), he attempts to help the reclusive, grouchy doctor secure the funding he needs to expand his research, but things get complicated when they get involved with a large pharmaceutical corporation.

The Good
Fraser and Ford turn out to be something of an inspired pairing, generating a sparkling chemistry that leaves you hoping they'll work together again. Ford (notoriously grouchy and reclusive in real life) is clearly enjoying himself as Stonehill and the fact that the film does little to smooth over his rough edges is perhaps its biggest surprise.

Keri Russell is less of a charisma-free zone here than she's been elsewhere, but she's relatively side-lined by the script, which gives her almost nothing to do except react to both Fraser and the kids. However, Jared Harris is excellent as the corporate executive who oversees their work, particularly in his scenes with Fraser and Courtney B. Vance makes the most of a minor role as a fellow Pompe parent.

The Bad
Essentially, this is Lorenzo's Oil all over again - the fact that it's based on a true story means that you're never in any doubt as to how it's going to end and it duly hits all the emotional notes you expect along the way. Similarly, the overdose of sentimentality (shots of adorable sickly children, last-minute miracles, heart-warming true-life tales etc) is par for the course in the genre and Extraordinary Measures is no different, though the finale, at least, is commendably downplayed.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is a watchable drama enlivened by strong performances from Ford and Fraser but it's essentially just a starrier version of a made-for-TV disease-of-the-week movie.

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Content updated: 17/09/2019 23:17

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