Extreme Measures [1996]

Extreme Measures loses credibility near the climax when it sacrifices its hold on reality, but this entertaining, intelligent thriller effectively applies a formulaic plot to the complicated ethics of medical research. It also gives Hugh Grant an opportunity to break free from lightweight comedy by playing an emergency room surgeon who discovers that a renowned neurologist (Gene Hackman) has been conducting secret experiments on patients. When Grant fails to save a patient whose body later mysteriously disappears from the morgue, his investigation leads to an underground community of healthy homeless people, some of whom have been test subjects in Hackman's revolutionary, but criminal research toward a cure for paralysis. Co-produced by actor-model Elizabeth Hurley and capably directed by Michael Apted, this otherwise conventional thriller rises above its limitations by asking morally complex questions that give its far-fetched plot an extra kick of dramatic impact. --Jeff Shannon

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