Based on a true story, Extraordinary Measures examines the great lengths John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Aileen (Keri Russell) endure to discover a treatment for Pompe’s disease, a fatal genetic disorder that afflicts their two youngest children.
The MS-like condition means their kids’ weakened, wheelchair-bound bodies are unable to break down glycogen (the stored form of sugar used for energy), and its tissue build-ups in the heart and skeletal muscles threaten their lives.
It’s unfortunate that Tom Vaughan’s rendition of the life-changing events is as ordinary as they come, a moping trudge through the business of drug development. An opening family drama meanders into the boardroom politics of bringing medicine to market, losing sight of a father’s struggle to save his dying children.
The pedestrian re-telling diminishes the inspiring contributions made by Dr. Yuan-Tsong Chen, the Duke University researcher who made the actual discovery that lead to the FDA-approved drug Myozyme, which currently treats Pompe patients. His accomplishment gives hope to desperate families and that deserves more than a forgettable melodrama filled with the perpetually pained single expression of Brendan Fraser.
Chen is renamed to Dr. Robert Stonehill and replaced by a growling Harrison Ford whose science is represented by white board scribblings while wearing a lab coat and blaring loud music. He frowns and yells lines like “I already work around the clock!” A little fist shaking and he’d be the doddering neighborhood kook who shouts at kids on his lawn.
After John Crowley learns of Stonehill on the Internet, he flies to Nebraska on a whim to form the eventual financial partnership that drives this mismatched buddy flick. Fraser plays the misty-eyed man of reason (Mopey) and Ford the irritable man of genius (Moody), which when combined is more soporific than any extra-strength Valium.
While Extraordinary Measures focuses on the tribulations of an important medical breakthrough, there’s no cure for the movie’s mediocrity. It’s hardly more than a sappy disease-of-the-week feature you’d flip past while channel surfing, except for the recognizable faces of Fraser and Ford. As the first feature of CBS Films, it’s a formulaic, forced tearjerker with little value outside of awareness for Pompe’s disease.
2 out of 5.