Reviewed by GREG KING

Director:Michael Apted
Stars: Hugh Grant, Gene Hackman, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Morse, Bill Nunn, John Toles-Bey, Paul Guilfoyle, Debra Monk

Typical of Hollywood’s lack of imagination and creativity, the three minute trailer for Extreme Measures is an absolute shocker! It virtually gives away all there is to know about the plot of this routine, moderately gripping, yet ultimately unsurprising medical thriller that seems to have been heavily inspired by the vastly superior Coma and its ilk.

Anyone who has seen the trailer will know, before they even enter the cinema, that Extreme Measures centres around dedicated young doctor Guy Luthan (played by Hugh Grant), who begins to investigate when a couple of indigent patients mysteriously die in a big city hospital and the bodies disappear before they can be autopsied. Despite warnings from his superior Luthan doggedly continues his investigation, and some rather unsubtle attempts are made to silence or discredit him before he can uncover the shocking truth. Luthan stumbles across Dr Myrick, a warped Nobel Prize winning neurologist (played by Gene Hackman), who is secretly using patients as guinea pigs in a series of bizarre and unethical experiments for a private research corporation. All that the trailer leaves out are the hundred odd minutes of incidental plot detail, such as the elaborate lengths to which Myrick and his sinister head of security (The Rock‘s David Morse) are prepared to go in their efforts to deflect Luthan from his course of action, the tense chase through the New York subway system, the empty rhetoric about doctors playing God in their attempts to conquer crippling diseases, and the red herrings that punctuate the plot.

Screen writer Tony Gilroy (who recently adapted the Stephen King novel Dolores Claiborne, which disappeared straight to video here) has adapted Michael Palmer’s reasonably suspenseful 1991 novel, which raises some complex and disturbing ethical issues about hasty medical experiments conducted in the name of research. Veteran Michael Apted (the acclaimed 7 Up series and thrillers such as Gorky Park, etc) is a quite competent director with the right material, and here he basically resuscitates the clichéd, formulaic and predictable plot, injecting a modicum of tension and suspense into proceedings that makes it at least watchable and mildly entertaining.

Extreme Measures is the first film from the fledgling production company established by Grant and his partner, super model Elizabeth Hurley, and Grant has deliberately chosen to play the lead in a drama, thus breaking away from his usually stereotyped roles as typically effete English cads in light comedies. He delivers a quite solid performance, capturing the confusion, frustration and bewilderment of a dedicated doctor who finds his career and reputation systematically destroyed by powerful enemies, and his presence holds the flimsy material together. The performances of the supporting cast are workmanlike, especially that from villain for hire Hackman, who manages to inject some charm into his undemanding role as an essentially well meaning but ruthless and misguided doctor who believes in his own infallibility. Sarah Jessica Parker is given little of note to do and is eventually wasted in a smaller role as an emergency room nurse whose true loyalties are unknown.




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