Hackman's Gene Research Grant
Released back in 1996 "Extreme Measures" is one of just a few Hugh Grant movies where he gets to show that he is not just a fluffy, floppy haired actor best suited to rom-coms. He gets to stretch his dramatic legs quite effectively in what is a nice, intriguing thriller which whilst being a little routine does have an added bonus of posing some searching ethical medical questions. And whilst "Extreme Measures" also sees Grant starring alongside Gene Hackman it also sees him partner up with Sarah Jessica Parker long before they got together for "Did You Hear About the Morgans?".
Dr. Guy Luthan (Hugh Grant - Nine Months) whilst working in a New York hospital becomes suspicious when a homeless man dies in the trauma room of some very strange symptoms. As he tries to investigate the death his enquiries leads him to Dr. Lawrence Myrick (Gene Hackman - Crimson Tide), one of the countries most respected medical figures and his enquires are certainly unwanted by the secretive Myrick, so much so that Luthan soon finds his own life at risk.
What should be for the most a routine play it by numbers thriller "Extreme Measures" turns into quite a surprising movie with its medical element which allows it to pose some searching ethical questions as to how far medical research should go. It is also surprisingly compelling drawing you in to the tangled web of murder coupled with the secretive medical practices of Dr. Myrick. Don't get me wrong as "Extreme Measures" is not a ground breaking drama but it does have something about it, a nice pace and atmosphere as well as a decent about of mystery with a smattering of action to keep you engrossed in what is unravelling before your eyes.
The most surprising thing about "Extreme Measures" is the casting of Hugh Grant; more commonly seen in romantic comedies, here he gets to stretch his dramatic, more serious acting ability and doesn't come up completely short. He's actually quite good demonstrating the fear and panic of a man getting into a whole lot of trouble for doing some investigating. The trouble is that because Hugh Grant is synonymous with those fluffy, humorous romantic roles playing the slightly bumbling English man watching him in a more serious role is hard to adjust to.
Hugh Grant is certainly helped by a good supporting cast which includes the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, David Morse, Bill Nunn but it is Gene Hackman as Dr. Lawrence Myrick who helps Grant the most. Hackman with his years of ability doesn't attempt to outshine Grant, rather creates a performance which balances with that delivered by Grant to make a more rounded movie, a more believable one at that.
What this all boils down to is that "Extreme Measures" is a surprisingly good thriller which isn't as completely routine as you would maybe expect. It's atmospheric, full of intrigue and a smattering of action but also poses those interesting questions over medical research, although it's not in any way a heavy thriller. The most surprising aspect of the movie is Hugh Grant who demonstrates given the right material is a decent serious actor rather than one best suited to those fluffy rom-coms he generally inhabits.