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April 09, 2003

Extreme Measures

Effective low budget thriller

Hugh Grant plays a brilliant young English medical student. He is working in a New York hospital when he discovers a patient has died mysteriously. He tries to get the postmortem notes, and finds that they have disappeared. What's going on? Colleagues tell him to just let it go, but he is an idealist, and starts investigating. He finds other vagrants have also died in a similar way, and uses a contact to go underground to mee the community of tramps living under the city. This is the last straw for the shady characters in the background, who try to kill him, and though he escapes with a small wound, his career is over. He gets framed for drug abuse, and sacked.

It's difficult to see why he kept on investigating earlier, but now he has nothing to lose and the pace and tension of the film really hots up as he discovers the truth. Gene Hackman is doing experimental spinal surgery on homeless people, and disposing of them when they die. His daughter is in a wheel-chair, and he has made it his life's work to try and find a cure for her disability. All the people helping him are either similarly disabled themselves, or have close relatives who are, and this is the sinister conspiracy alluded to earlier.

There is a big dramatic showdown, and Grant eventually wins and gets his job back. A nice touch is that he also gets Hackman's notes, and so can continue the research on a more ethical basis.

All in all, an overlooked gem, with a very watchable Hugh Grant and supporting cast (including Sarah Jessica Parker). You feel a real empathy for what Hackman is doing; he makes a very moving speech supporting his case, after all, it's only a few bums who get killed, and who cares about them, whereas thousands of useful disabled people will be given new lives. But of course, you know it's wrong, and you rightly root for the moral choice.

AE 0

Posted by se71 at April 9, 2003 05:25 PM


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