Movie Review – Extraordinary Measures

I was so excited to see Harrison Ford’s name in the credits of a movie!  I haven’t seen anything from him in a while and really miss him!  I absolutely adore him!  His is ruggedly handsome and equally comfortable playing comedy, adventure, and more serious roles – he is my idea of the all round perfect guy (er um, I mean actor)!  Whatever I meant, I always get excited about any movie that has him in the credits.  For example:  He was lovable and charming in Sabrina, Working Girl, and Regarding Henry.  He was energizing in the Indiana Jones films, The Fugitive, and Clear and Present Danger.  He was commanding in Air Force One, What Lies Beneath, and Firewall.  So — Harrison Ford is what drew me to this movie!  Then I saw the previews and discovered what the story was about and that clinched the deal!

The story involves a young marketing executive for a large Pharmaceutical company who is a desperate father of three – two of which suffer from Pompe, a fatal, incurable disease.  Brendan Fraser plays John Crowley and Keri Russell plays his wife Aileen.  Together, they care for their critically ill children and deal with the reality that they will eventually lose the fight for their lives.  Crowley discovers Dr. Robert Stonehill, portrayed by Harrison Ford, who is working on research to come up with a special enzyme to help save the lives of Pompe patients.  They team up – Stonehill with his research and Crowley with his marketing skills – to start a small biotech company  so that Stonehill can get the funding to finish the enzyme that has the promise of halting the disease in children who go through the therapy.  Things get complicated when they find themselves needing to get in bed with big pharma to overcome the financial pitfalls of being a small biotech company.

The movie is very emotional on several levels.  The most obvious being the children with this debilitating disease – the look of anguish on the parent’s faces during trips to the hospital where doctors tell them they are at the end of their journey and another family with two Pompe children who are close friends with the Crowleys lose the fight for their oldest daughter.  It is also emotional because it is based on a true story – the idea that this is more than a writer’s creation is compelling.  Yes, the writers, as with most “based on a true story” movies, does embellish some (for instance, Crowley is a real person, but Stonehill is a composite of several different researchers), but it still tugs at the heart-strings to know that there are people out there being real life heroes to children who are in desperate need of life saving research!

 But the part that got to me more than any of it was one scene about a meeting at the Pharmaceutical plant.  Crowley, frustrated about his passion and desires to do good becoming little more than business and politics, calls a meeting of all the employees and brings in Pompe families to talk to them about their struggles and thank them for the great work they are doing!  I, like Crowley, don’t understand why the corporate heads were against this!  Having worked the last 22 years in a Biotech manufacturing company – much like Crowley, first in a small biotech start-up company and then through a series of mergers and buy-outs growing into one of the largest Pharmaceutical companies in the world – I know that one of the strongest motivators employees in this field have is knowing their contributions save lives every day!  We had pictures of our “customers” – the babies – all over the facility and were often treated to testimonials from parents of children we saved!  Putting a face to the results of our work was always emotional and highly motivating!  So, this scene particularly hit home for me and really got to me!

The movie over all was good — the story was incredible, the acting was top-notch (both Ford and Fraser did excellent jobs in their roles), the scenes were touching!  Where it fell a little sort was that it was really quite “slow” – there were scenes that could have been compressed or beefed up so that they didn’t seem to drag out or maybe it was too many slower scenes clumped together.  But, that aside, it was interesting and thought-provoking!  I would rate it a B.

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