A healthy dose of drama
SCIENCE HAS gotten a bad rap lately. People are protesting against schools teaching Darwinism, diagnosing themselves based on Google searches, and embracing a dizzying number of fad diets. Misinformation and confusion about science seems to be spreading across all media. So Extraordinary Measures has the accidental good fortune of proving topical. Even its tagline (“Don’t hope for a miracle, make one“) sounds like a poke in the eye to the religious right.
The premise certainly sounds decidedly like a mediocre TV movie. Pompe disease is a rare genetic illness that hinders the ability to break down sugar, eventually attacking the muscles and heart.
When we meet John Crowley (Brendan Fraser), two of his three children are suffering from the potentially fatal disease. A sliver of hope is represented by a surly scientist Bob Stonehill (Harrison Ford). Despite his potentially revolutionary work, Stonehill’s career has been under-funded and overlooked. Eager for money for Bob’s research, the desperate dad and the angry doc go into business together, putting all their chips on Stonehill’s potential cure.
Despite the workmanlike direction, Extraordinary Measures is a surprisingly ingratiating. Both Fraser and Ford are ideally cast and, while it would have been nice if there was a little more science and a little less precocious kids, this develops into a emotionally powerful drama of genuine heroism.