Extraordinary Measures

It reeks of mid-budget ambience and barely-adequate production values, but there's a reason for that. The gigantic CBS â"eye" logo during the opening credits tells us it's from the newly formed CBS Feature Films, which was set up to produce and distribute four to six theatrical films per year. The film's heart is in the right place, and the subject matter is certainly worthy of feature film attention, but what's missing is any dramatic depth or display of exceptional filmmaking.

The film is based on the true story of the Crowley family, John (Brendan Fraser) and Aileen (Keri Russell), whose two children were diagnosed with Pompe Disease, a fatal form of Muscular Dystrophy. John is faced with the dilemma of whether to continue his high-paying job with great health insurance knowing that he can only provide palliative treatment until the disease eventually takes its toll... or he can take matters into his own hands.

John decides to quit his high-profile executive job to team up with a brilliant but socially inept University of Nebraska scientist, Dr. Stonehill (Harrison Ford). Together, they form a bio-tech start-up focused on developing a life-saving drug to help fight Pompe disease and save Crowley's sick children. John will provide the business savvy, while Dr. Stonehill is to be responsible for bringing his scientific theories to reality. The only problems may come from Crowley's selfish interests or Stonehill's eccentricities.

Dr. Stonehill is one of those singularly focused loner scientists who stays locked in a lab 12 hours a day preferring to avoid human interaction lest he be forced to make eye contact or to engage in some kind of human interaction. He doesn't particularly like Crowley, but realizes he'll need to find some way to get along if he hopes to find the cure.

Extraordinary MeasuresIt's not giving anything away to say that the pair eventually sells their lab to a bigger corporate drug-maker where Stonehill and his blue jean-wearin', classic rock listenin' idiosyncrasies run up against the bureaucratic machinations of the corporate world and Crowley's sick children are eventually seen as an impassable conflict-of-interest.

The film works best when Fraser and Ford are on the screen together. Stonehill's abrasiveness plays nicely against Crowley's meticulous calm, the big surprise here being Fraser's ability to act himself out of his lunk-headed George of the Jungle pigeonhole. We actually feel the pain of a man faced with the burning reality of losing his children. He effectively displays the calm needed to make sound financial business decisions while never letting on to his deep desperation. A complex role for sure, and Fraser handles it nicely. But let's tap the brakes a bit on calling this the performance of his career. We'll wait to see what he can do in a better film.

Extraordinary Measures effectively demonstrates the frustrating counter productivity of the U.S. health care system and what it takes to go up against the money-driven business model of drug companies. Terms like â"acceptable patient fatalities" draw up horrific realities that would make for a riveting story, but unfortunately the story wants to be about the people, so it never delves too deeply into anything that might shake up our moral fiber.

Like Lorenzo's Oil, Extraordinary Measures has a lot of important things to say about both the American medical establishment and the importance of family. But unlike that film, Extraordinary Measures always gets paralyzed by its filmmakers. Director Tom Vaughan (Starter for Ten) is an adequate by-the-numbers director. He knows where to put the camera, when to use a crane shot and how to infuse the proceedings with plenty of beautiful scenery. But despite the heart-rending subject matter, the film lacks any genuine emotional depth or artistic panache. It's just there, flickering on the screen... actors doing what they do.

Component Grades
3 Stars
DVD Experience


Blu-ray Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1
:English, English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1



  • Meet John Crowley (1080i, 4:35)
  • 'Extraordinary Measures:' The Power to Overcome (1080p, 10:43)

Deleted Scenes: nine deleted scenes (1080p, 9:22)

BD-Live functionality

MovieIQ connectivity

    Trailers: for Not the Messiah, The Young Victoria, The Back-Up Plan, Dear John, Not Easily Broken, Fireproof, Michael Jackson's This is It, and Facing the Giants.