Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser may be the stars on the marquee for Extraordinary Measures, but the true spotlight of this extraordinary film is parental determination.
Fraser and Ford are a terrific team, but what rises above all else after witnessing Extraordinary Measures, is its inspiration to anyone with children and the lengths any parent would go to save their child.
John and Aileen Crowley were living the American Dream with his career soaring and their loving, if not challenging, family life. Two of the Crowley's children are discovered to have Pompe Disease, a debilitating disease that slowly kills most children by their eighth birthday. The Crowley's oldest is eight.
As embodied by Fraser and Keri Russell, the Crowleys embark on an exhausted research quest, determined not to accept the death sentence for their two children. The most promising science arises from the mind of Dr Robert Stonehill, as played with perfect panache by Ford. Stonehill is a composite of a team of scientists that were fighting to find a cure. Ford tackles the role with initial reservations before quickly charging into his Dr Stonehill once the electric chemistry with Fraser begins.
Stonehill is used to doing things his way and although Crowley's passion is inspiring, the two often butt heads as to approach, methods and even a big picture mentality of what to do when theory becomes reality.
Directed by Tom Vaughan, the pacing is remarkably at times much like a suspense thriller. Whether John Crowley gets the cure for his children is always in jeopardy throughout the film and Vaughan maintains that frenzied pace that scientists keep when close to a breakthrough.
Of all the actors, Russell is the one that most sears the mind leaving the theater. Her Aileen is all at once strong, sufferable and salient as the Crowley matriarch. The power that audiences witnessed from Russell as an actress in her astonishing performance in Waitress is only enhanced by Russell's latest stellar turn.
In many ways, Russell provides the heart of the film. While the scientist and the businessman raise hundreds of millions of dollars while simultaneously moving towards a Pompe cure at breakneck speeds, it is Russell's Aileen that keeps the film grounded in what all this professional passion play by Ford and Fraser is all about -- the little ones at home.
Some may wonder why Extraordinary Measures, with its Oscar potential written all over it, would be released in January, months before the Oscar race heats up. The truth of the matter is with Extraordinary Measures, the Oscar race of 2010 has begun!
The film emanates emotions like The Blind Side in its inspirational powers. The story will also stick with you just as much. But, the difference is where The Blind Side was universal in its themes to an audience of all kinds; Extraordinary Measures speaks much more directly to its audience -- the family film going public.
That is a good thing. Extraordinary Measures showcases the power of the familial bond, as evidenced by the Crowleys is stronger than any force of nature -- including Pompe Disease.
Out of five stars:
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Extraordinary Measures star and producer Harrison Ford's exclusive video interview