USA / 1996
Director: Michael Apted
Writer: Tony Gilroy (based on the novel by Michael Palmer)
Cast: Hugh Grant, Gene Hackman, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Morse, Bill Nunn, John Toles-Bey, Paul Guilfoyle
A medical thriller in the style of Michael Crichton’s classic 1978 movie Coma, Extreme Measures is directed by seasoned campaigner Michael Apted. Produced by Liz Hurley, the film stars her then-partner, Hugh Grant, as a doctor working in a New York hospital who becomes involved in a mysterious case involving strange deaths and missing bodies. Combining ethical medical questions with all the hallmarks of the thriller genre (including a breathtaking chase scene through the Metro), this is an intelligent and thoughtful movie. Or, as Grant himself puts it in his own inimitable way, “The kind of movie where commercial film meets film-with-a-brain, you know?”
The good doctor starts suspecting all is not well at Gramercy hospital when a man is brought into intensive care suffering from convulsions, wearing a wristband marked ‘Triphase’. The patient dies, but not before telling Dr Luthan to go to “the room” and find “Teddy Dolson”. Things become more sinister when the corpse disappears and the morgue denies any knowledge of it, while two men, Frank Hare (David Morse) and Detective Burke (Bill Nunn) – Burke and Hare, geddit? – seem intent on making life even more unpleasant for Luthan, ransacking his flat and planting drugs there.
Luthan is relieved of his duties at the hospital, but he makes a major breakthrough when he finds “the room”: a subterranean area full of homeless people who have been involuntarily operated upon in the name of medical science. With all the evidence pointing towards a renowned neurologist, Dr Lawrence Myrick (Gene Hackman), Luthan seeks help from Nurse Jodie Trammel (Sarah Jessica Parker) as he battles to stay alive.