Desperate Measures (1998)
Trying Hard but Left me Desperate
Yeah well I need a blowjob and a martini but i'm not getting that now am I? - Peter McCabe
With his son's Leukaemia having returned San Francisco detective Frank Connor (Andy Garcia - When a Man Loves a Woman) is desperate to find a compatible bone marrow donor except the only compatible person is Pete McCabe (Michael Keaton - Multiplicity) a convicted killer who sees his chance to help as an opportunity to escape. When McCabe stages his escape the hospital becomes a battle ground as the police try to kill him whilst Frank tries to save him as he is only helpful whilst still alive.
The good news is that "Desperate Measures" starts well, with intrigue, a sense of thrill and anticipation of what will come next. It shows moments of ingenuity as it lays out an emotional storyline about the policeman forced to break the law and then put his faith in a convicted killer in the hope of saving his son from Leukaemia. Shame then that once the set up is done, characters are introduced and wheels are put in motion it descends into being a totally run of the mill action thriller, which to be frank is not that thrilling because it's all too predictable. It all ends up becoming a series of action scene after action scene with most of them feeling rather ordinary, it lacks the excitement or even slight humour of say "Die Hard" which is what it ends up becoming comparable to, just inferior in every way.
"Desperate Measures" also isn't helped by the fact it all ends up a bit too fanciful even over the top as it attempts to make it exciting with elements which are far too unbelievable. It all starts to be a bit silly as is the final twist which to be honest is not really a shock although amusing in its unoriginality.
All of which is a shame because as I mentioned "Desperate Measures" actually starts of with quite an interesting premise that of a father willing to do anything to save his son, the sort of thing which was done much better in "John Q.". But then the actual emotional feel of the storyline is never really there especially when all the action takes over. You never really get a sense that Frank is overly worried for his son, the emotional bond never feels real and he doesn't come across as being frantic enough when trying to bring in McCabe. Maybe the action causes this or maybe it's more to do with the casting of Andy Garcia who seems completely 2 dimensional. It also doesn't help that he also doesn't suit the action role at all.
What all this means is that "Desperate Measure" relies heavily on all the action, the special effects and occasional shoot outs but again to be frank it all feels too run of the mill as if any of the action sequences were pulled from other movies. It lacks that adrenalin, the excitement and wow factor to really get you on the edge of the seat as McCabe tries to elude capture. Although it has to be said "Desperate Measures" has it's moments, the car chase scene with a skidding lorry and the hospital bridge scene do grab your attention, it's just a shame that for the rest of the movie it fails to achieve the same level of excitement.
Whilst Andy Garcia sadly disappoints failing to deliver the emotional action hero his character should have been, Michael Keaton is pretty damn good when it comes to Pete McCabe the convicted killer. Keaton who is probably better known for more light weight, even comical roles y makes for quite a good villain, he manages to deliver that silent menace, the look of a calculated killer but also the slight deranged side to make his character that bit edgy, that you are never quite sure what he will do next. It's a performance which is sadly wasted because the rest of the movie is so run of the mill.
Whilst Andy Garcia and Michael Keaton are the central characters Joseph Cross is a surprising bonus as the young Matthew not so much captivating you with his performance but that his character is so matter of fact, accepting that he will most likely die and dealing with it like an adult. As for the other characters and cast they are all very stereotypical which is again a shame that with Brian Cox in the cast they didn't use him for more than just a stereotypical police captain, a role which lacked any impact.
what this all boils down to is that "Desperate Measures" is not really thrilling, not really dramatic and relies far too heavily on choreographed action sequences to keep you watching, sort of like a less entertaining "Die Hard" wannabee . They don't all work but there are a few action scenes which are truly spectacular and with Keaton putting in a convincing performance as the convicted killer the movie has it's moments but they are all too fleeting to really make "Desperate Measures" anything more than run of the mill mindless action flick.
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