Desperate Measures

Desperate Measures


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Has his place been taken by Billy Crystal, or did those years as The Bat destroy all hope of resurrection? Michael Keaton used to be heir apparent to mid-range light comedy, those movies that didn't cost much and didn't make much. Now he's remembered (if at all) as the guy who wore the cape twice before George Clooney turned Bruce Wayne into a sex symbol. Obviously a drastic makeover was required to reinstate Michael as a man who acts.

Peter McCabe is Hannibal Lecter on speed. He's what they call a sociopath, which means DANGER: DON'T MESS WITH. Keaton as McCabe would cross wires alright. The worst that could happen is public ridicule and the best a new life as Freddy Krueger.

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You can tell he's worked for those close-ups, every sinew taut as fence wire. McCabe is considered so dangerous, he's kept in solitary, with no books, ciggies or pointy food. Being a fitness faddist and control freak, he's particular about body movements - economy and precision in all things. He is vain, focused and looking for loopholes.

The movie suffers from too convoluted a storyline. Frank Conner (Andy Garcia) is a cop, whose son is dying from leukemia. The boy's only hope is a bone marrow transplant and the one person on FBI files with the right tissue is McCabe. Will he agree? Will Conner's boss (Brian Cox) allow it? McCabe sees the situation as an opportunity to exit cell left. Conner sees it as his son's last chance. McCabe is foxy. He thinks of everything. Conner is so caught up in his little boy's life-and-death struggle, he's no competition. He's chase fodder.

The multi plots are these: McCabe tries to escape. Hundreds of armed police are there to stop him. Conner is there, too, except he doesn't want him killed (bone marrow extracted from a dead person is useless). Meanwhile, the sick boy has turned into a saint. His doctor is on the way there. It's different for her. She's a woman. Like in Speed, when the bus has to go flat out or blow up, Conner has to keep McCabe alive, which means compromising his position as a cop. All very difficult, especially when dealing with someone who doesn't accept rules.

This is Keaton's picture. He makes the most of it. Lesser mortals, such as Kiefer Sutherland or Jason Patric, would have been heavy and intense, missing the point of McCabe - he is not without interest. The film may be formulaic and Garcia wasted, but Barbet Schroeder is a spell-weaver, even with a script that misses opportunities and sprinkles sentimentality like icing sugar.

Keaton half-deranged is an improvement on Keaton half funny. Perhaps being Hannibal's love child will change his career. Again.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2007
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A bone marrow transplant from a sociopath is the last remaining hope for a cop's son.
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Director: Barbet Schroeder

Writer: David Klass

Starring: Michael Keaton, Andy Garcia, Brian Cox, Marcia Gay Harden, Erik King, Efrain Figueroa, Joseph Cross, Janel Moloney, Richard Riehle, Tracey Walter, Peter Weireter

Year: 1998

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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