When Guy, a British doctor working at a New York hospital, finds that the body of one of his patients has gone missing, he makes inquiries that come as an unwelcome shock to emminent surgeon Dr Lawrence Myrick.
This was the first film from Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley's production company Simian, a $40 million thriller directed by Michael Apted, one of the most unpredictable directors in Hollywood - the man who brought you the Oscar-winning Gorillas In The Mist, and the frankly horrendous Nell.
All the things you expect to happen in a thriller happen. Settled, good-looking bloke - in this case a New York doctor (Grant) - becomes involved in a sinister plot (disappearing homeless people) run by an outwardly respectable geezer (Hackman). A woman is involved, in this case a nurse at the hospital (Parker). Things get hairy. Good-looking bloke realises he can trust no one. People get killed. Good-looking bloke loses his job. His life starts spiralling in a downward direction very quickly. He's on the run. Guns come out. More death. Baddie is relieved of liberty/life. Good-looking bloke is absolved of any blame. Lights come up. Everyone goes to curry house.
As thrillers go, this is as good as any of its contemporaries, and a lot better than many (Chain Reaction, say). While Grant never quite pulls off the action hero bit, he's likeable enough to centre the film ably, and of course Hackman is always eminently watchable. The plot's more interesting than most, too, with a genuine moral dilemma at its heart (are individuals expendable for the greater good?) and some neat twists to keep you interested. And while Apted may not be a natural action director, perhaps that helps. Extreme Measures boasts no huge explosions or massive pile-ups, but this serves it well, adding to the sense of reality that movies such as it need if they're not going to descend into silliness.
Though undemanding, this is an enjoyable film, one of those movies that delights, not because it's masterfully made, but because it's better than you thought it was going to be. Suspend disbelief. Give it a try.