Saturday, 29 November 2014

Reviewing Extreme Measures

This is an old film from 1996 and yet thankfully I found to buy this first Simian production easily enough. (Simian Films is the production house opened up at the time by Hugh Grant with then-partner Elizabeth Hurley and which has by now been closed). For those that might not have heard of it, Extreme Measures is a thriller dealing with ethics in medicine and neurological experimentation, based on a book by the same name. Due to an aversion to gore, I googled this film and read all the reviews and comments I could get hold of to ensure I would be able to see it without squirming (well I did look away a couple of times because of some ugly scenes). Despite the uncertainty of how many times I would jump out of my skin whilst watching (hence I implored my husband to watch it with me) I am a loyal fan of Grant's works and couldn't give up watching a non-horror film of his at least once.
If there was ever a film that Hugh Grant starred in that should dispel the common perception that he plays the same character over and over, it is this one. It sees him play the good doctor, Guy Luthan, who is thrown into a world of crime, deceit and too much gore and pain. It was difficult, especially at the start, to take him seriously with those soft blue eyes and the floppy hair all over the place, since this time it would have seemed out of place to have him constantly running his hand through it to calm it down. But as the film progressed and the good doctor turned private detective of the most heroic kind, I got used not only to a totally serious side to his acting but also to seeing him with blood on the face and oozing from his nose and eventually the bullet wounds. That is not to say I enjoyed watching his smooth face covered in red or his hair matted from the blood. And with this mention of hair I must comment that he had a good hair cut in this film (and one that hid the mark on his face just in front of the ear). But if the hair looked good and the makeup was to my relief (and his as from what I gather he hates makeup) non-existent, I must say that he could have done with waxing off that monobrow if he wanted those non-fans to become followers.

Now on to the film itself, I must remark that there are quite a few twists and turns, both literal (once Guy finds himself in an underground labyrinth of tunnels full of train tracks) and not. Having read the summary of the film, I thought I had it all figured out and that I was just watching it mostly out of curiosity and for yet another view of those baby blues. But time and again during the course of almost two hours I was proven wrong or had to admit there were things the reviews had not told me, which is just as well as I love a good surprise. And surprises there were, for even whilst the viewer almost immediately gets to know who is meant to be the big man on the bad side, you can never be sure of the rest of the characters. Being Hugh's usually blundering 'nice guy', Luthan does not keep much of what he learns to himself and I was quick to point out to my husband how this was not the ideal thing for a 'detective' to do. But trust the film to prove that I was always wrong in who I regarded as a possible threat to him. I was also, ashamedly, surprised that our good doctor chose always to look out for his patients first and foremost, even when they were anyway on the brink of death and he was risking his own skin in doing so.
I think my loyalty at times got the better of me as I pleaded with Hugh Grant to leave them alone and just run, or asked some villain to 'please now, enough, stop hitting him.' I must seem a real moron whenever I watch what I call 'an HG Film' that can in any way put his character in danger, or in one case unfortunately even death. It is inconceivable to me that someone would be blind enough to harm such good looks but then again maybe that is why I have never been cast in a thriller myself (I'd only be good at the romantic comedies I guess!).
Before I make you gag with my recurring mentions of the dark haired man with pools of blue for eyes, let me move to commenting on the last part of this long film. It is unusual in a thriller for the bad guys to win but with so many bends in this plot I could not be sure of that. And I will also not tell, for the sake of those who still intend watching this unique presentation of Hugh's and would rather find it out for themselves. And I will also not tell you what awaits Guy Luthan at the very end of the film, not only unexpected to the audience but definitely also to himself.




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