Extreme Measures (1996) Directed by Michael Apted. With Hugh Grant, Gene Hackman, Sarah Jessica Parker and David Morse.
Coming two years after his breakout performance in the acclaimed British comedy, Four Weddings and a Funeral, actor Hugh Grant attempts to spread his acting wings as the lead in the gothic themed, drama/thriller, Extreme Measures, based on a 1991 novel of the same name by Michael Palmer.
With his ‘Four Weddings’ floppy hair mop still intact, Grant visibly fights the urge to slip into his charming, stuttering shtick. He plays Dr. Guy Luthan, who we meet in his job in the chaotic A&E department of a New York hospital. It’s here that the thrust of the plot begins as Guy encounters a distressed patient with some strange symptoms.
For the first half-hour, director Michael Apted builds a mildly interesting tone of sinister goings on, as to Guy’s surprise, his curiosity regarding his mysterious patient, is met with suspicion and increasing hostility. Gene Hackman is introduced in a role that demands very little of him, although his quality as an actor, does bring a certain assurance. It’s a shame then, that the film runs out of steam not long afterwards.
I’ve heard it said that the only thing worse than a one star film, is a two star film. Extreme Measures definitely qualifies as the latter. There’s nothing to strongly dislike here, it’s all capably put together, with a beginning, middle and end, during which the actors all do their jobs. That’s just it though, nothing here resonates beyond the confines of the time you spend in it’s company. The early novelty of watching Hugh Grant playing it straight wears off after five minutes, while Sex and the City fans might rejoice at the sight of Sarah Jessica Parker in a supporting role, but Extreme Measures is a thriller sorely lacking in genuine thrills. 2/5