Extraordinary Measures Review

Published 5 years ago by

Short Version: If you like emotional movies with serious performances and inspirational messages, then Extraordinary Measures will definitely tug on your heart strings.

Extraordinary Measures head Extraordinary Measures Review
Screen Rant’s Paul Young reviews Extraordinary Measures

There are some sure fire ways to tug on a viewer’s emotional chord – animals in trouble (The Cove), people overcoming adversity (The Blind Side, Precious) and children with life-threatening illnesses or debilitating handicaps.  Extraordinary Measures deals with the latter of those three by telling the true story of Megan and Patrick Crowley, an eight and six year-old brother and sister who have Pompe Disease, and the steps their father John Crowley took to try and save their lives.

Pompe Disease is a form of muscular dystrophy that most often affects children from birth, causing their muscles to under-develop, leaving them bound to a wheelchair. Another effect of this disease is that the childrens organs enlarge and because of this, most children infected with Pompe don’t live past the age of 9.

The films picks up with John’s oldest child, Megan, turning eight. She is a typical eight-year-old girl: she loves pink, hanging out with friends, playing with her older brother, John Jr., and her favorite subject in school is P.E. Early in the movie, shortly after her birthday party, Megan has respiratory problems and is rushed to the hospital. There is no cure for Pompe and no real treatment. The only thing doctors can do is try and treat the symptoms.  John and his wife Aileen, played by Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell,  are frustrated parents who seem to be dealt an emotional blow at every turn.

In one scene, that may or may not have happened in real life, the Crowley’s are told by the doctor that there is nothing else the hospital can do to save their daughter. “You should look at this as a blessing,” the doctor says coldly, trying to find the words to comfort two obviously distraught parents.  “Her suffering will be over,” he adds while Mr. Crowley looks like he wants to punch him in the face. Even if that didn’t happen, every parent in the audience can relate to the frustration, anger and sense of dread that is felt when one of their children is hurt or is seriously ill.

The best line of the movie comes shortly after when Megan pulls through and the same doctor delivers the good news to which Mr. Crowley replies, “Guess we dodged the blessing, huh?” This brings me to Brendan Fraser’s acting. I’m so very glad to finally see him in a serious role again. Not since School Ties has Fraser delivered such a believable performance. I fear, though, that he has suffered a bit from too many “goofy face” roles because a few times during the film he got the same look when trying to be serious.

extraordinary measures pic 1 Extraordinary Measures Review

John Crowley decides he can’t sit around and just “wait for his children to die,” so he takes goes to “extraordinary measures” (one of many instances), and quits his well-paying job at a drug company in order to convince Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford) to take his theoretical enzyme therapy and make it a reality. One problem – the research is very expensive and they need to raise a great deal of capitol just to get started. Crowley is a very determined father and after several failed attempts of gathering investor support, he manages to find a group of venture capitalists willing to put down the $10 million needed to fund the research. A few months later, after generating some buzz in the enzyme drug world because of Stonehill’s lab work, they get bought-out by a large drug firm with very deep pockets.

This is where Crowley realizes that big corporate backing is a necessary evil he must endure if his children are to ever get better. Everybody involved with the production of a working enzyme has a different agenda: Crowley wants his children to get treated, Stonehill wants to prove his enzyme treatment is the best, and the big corporation of course just wants to make money. Crowley is like a fish out of water in the big corporate world with little to no clout. He has no idea what to do with the research because he isn’t a scientist. He can’t make policy decisions as an executive because the enzyme corporation only gave him a job as a condition of buying Stonehill’s company.

I won’t give away the rest of the film but needless to say it tries very hard to make the audience feel empathetic towards the Crowleys and bring tears to your eyes. I’ve read some of the other reviews floating around the net and a lot of them are down on this movie for being too safe and formulaic – and to a degree they are right. However, I think the movie needed to be safe because it involves children in a real life situation.

I liked Extraordinary Measures but I think I’m a bit biased because I have friends with a three-year-old son who has brain damage and is confined to a wheelchair. I had a hard time disconnecting my thoughts and feelings from him and only associating with Megan and Patrick Crowley but you know what – that’s OK. The director and actors where able to tap into my emotions and make the movie watching experience distinctly personal for me.

Extraordinary Measures isn’t a perfect movie but if you like to emotionally invest in a film, or, like me, you have a personal situation that allows you to attach to the story, then I’d recommend watching it in theaters. If not, you’re better off waiting for the DVD.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. So safe and formulaic is OK for Avatar but not for a film like this.

    Just want to be sure I understand where other reviewers are coming from. :-P

  2. Pompe actually hits at the age of 2 .
    They changed it to 9 because older kids that can play and interact with their parents are easier for the audience to relate to.
    Thanks for the review Paul.

  3. Nice to see a slightly posetive review about this movie, always a fan of anything Ford does, but as to the review itself, this might just be a thing for me; it doesnt really tell me anything other than the story, and I would like to know about the acting performances more than an extended synopsis.

  4. There wasn't much to write about Sam. Ford and Russell are in the film but really are nothing more than secondary characters. In fact Russell has fewer lines and scenes than Ford. There really wasn't any up or downs in Ford's performance, it was a full on eccentric doctor that is a complete jerk. People put up with him because they need his research but in the end the formula that goes to market isn't even his.

    The star of this film is Fraser, his daughter is on the screen for a limited amount of time and she's good and likable but the story is about a father's love for his children and the things he will do to save them. Everyone else in the film is there to support that story and not given much more to do.

  5. Fair enough Paul, so Ford is basically being House in this movie? Ha

    I wish Ford would start doing some decent movies and using some of the talent he clearly has, why does he seem content to coast through the final years of his career doing sub par movies?

  6. Im glad this got a decent review (at least the 3.5 and the short description, haven't read the full thing yet). I saw the preview and thought it had potential to do well.

  7. Hollywood does it again. Changing the race from asian to white. I for one will not buy tickets to this crap nor will I be buying the bluray. I hope Walmart is reading this.

    “Dr. Robert Stonehill doesn’t exist in real life. The Pompe cure was developed by Dr. Yuan-Tsong Chen and his colleagues while he was at Duke University. [...] Harrison Ford, as this film’s executive producer, perhaps saw Stonehill as a plum role for himself; a rewrite was necessary because [Ford] couldn’t very well play Dr. Chen. The real Chen, a Taiwan University graduate, worked his way up at Duke from a residency to professor and chief of medical genetics at the Duke University Medical Center. [Chen] has been mentioned as a Nobel candidate.” -Ebert

  8. Dear Paul, I have not seen the picture, but I would just like to say this is an excellently written review. Thank you.

  9. good to know about positive side on this great movie…i'll rate this as an excellently written review. Thank you.

  10. good to know about positive side on this great movie…i'll rate this as an excellently written review. Thank you.