Release Date: January 30, 1998
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Director: Barbet Schroeder
Writer: David Klass
Starring: Michael Keaton, Andy Garcia, Brian Cox, Marcia Gay Harden, Erik King, Joseph Cross
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW
Recently I’ve come up with a list of actors/actresses that I love where I haven’t reviewed a movie they starred in for “Guilty Pleasure Cinema Review!” One of the names I had listed was Michael Keaton. I was shocked I haven’t done a movie of his. I’m a huge Michael Keaton fan. I still believe he was the best Batman. Not only that, but he’s an incredible actor who could play any part. He started his career in comedies then moved to dramas and suspense. Keaton’s hard work and determination would be rewarded in 2014 when he appeared in the movie “Birdman” in which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy/Drama and earned him his first Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor (Which he should’ve won. Screw the guy who played Stephen Hawking)! I came across a movie of his that appeared on streaming which I was highly fond of when it came out. It was a role a lot of people haven’t seen him play before. For this review, we’re going to look at the 1998 suspense flick “Desperate Measures!”
“Desperate Measures” stars Andy Garcia as San Francisco police officer Frank Connor who is in search for a bone morrow donor for his young son, Matt who suffers from leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant in order to live. After breaking into the FBI headquarters, he finds a donor using their database. The only match that is listed is a sociopathic serial killer named Peter McCabe (Keaton) who is serving a life sentence for several murders. Connor heads to the prison where McCabe is incarcerated pleading for him to help his son. McCabe initially refuses but has a change of heart as he sees this as an opportunity to escape. When McCabe is transferred to the hospital and is being prepped for the transplant, McCabe is unable to be sedated as he took a counteracting drug given to him by an inmate. He slips out of his restraints and attempts to escape from the hospital. Connor must track down McCabe and recapture him in time to do the transplant otherwise his son will die from his illness.
Released at the beginning of 1998, “Desperate Measures” was met with mixed reviews. It made $13 million at the box office against a reported $50 million budget making it a flop. The movie did win an ALMA Award for Garcia for the category of “Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film in a Crossover Role.” Unfortunately, Keaton didn’t receive any award nominations.
“Desperate Measures” isn’t anything groundbreaking or original, but it has enough to keep you focused. I’ve heard people call this movie a long chess game, a cat and mouse game and an old-fashioned car chase movie. It’s all of the above. It’s a predictable movie filled with some light tension, explosions and action sequences. The performances of Keaton and Garcia are the highlights of this film. They are perfectly matched and try to out smart each other to get ahead of the curve.
This isn’t the first time Keaton has played a sinister character. If you saw the movie “Pacific Heights,” you know what kind of a despicable criminal Keaton is in that movie. He’s essentially the same character from that movie but heightened. When you first see him in his prison cell, he is muscular and intimidating. Behind that brawn is a brain. The movie does a good job showing the audience McCabe’s planning of his escape, the methods he goes to for preparing his escape such as taking a drug to counter act sedatives prior to being put in anesthesia and improvising when things in the hospital don’t go as planned.
Andy Garcia is in familiar territory playing an officer of the law. For what its worth his performance was spot on. You can see the emotion and determination play out in the film. He will do everything it takes to save his son at the risk of losing his job and it shows when he chases down McCabe. He doesn’t allow himself to be manipulated by McCabe but sometimes goes along with his demands in order to get one step closer to him.
The supporting cast is small but is enough to advance the story and the events taking place. Brian Cox plays police Captain Jeremiah Cassidy who thinks he has McCabe on a tight leash expect McCabe refuses to heel. He is just as determined to get him as Garcia is however, he is not concerned about keeping McCabe alive. Marcia Gay Harden plays Dr. Samantha Hawkins who is supposed to be doing the bone marrow transplant procedure but seems to become a nuisance for McCabe. Finally, we have Joseph Cross as Matthew Conner, the leukemia-stricken son of Frank Connor. You can’t expect much from child acting, but I thought he was fine in this role.
“Desperate Measures” was directed by Barbet Schroeder, who is best known for directed the movies “Single White Female and “Reversal of Fortune,” in which he received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Director from the latter picture. He’s directed numerous suspense films, so this is familiar territory with him. This movie relies more on style than substance. The movie is supposed to take place in San Francisco, but if you read the trivia, they never shot the movie there. It was shot in Pittsburgh. I have to say I was impressed with that considering we see a few shots that are reminiscent of what you would see in that city so kudos to the location scouts. Working with a script that had a lot of holes and questionable scenarios, Schroeder did his level best to keep the audience engaged.
“Desperate Measures” can be currently streamed on Crackle. It is a free streaming service. Now would be the best time to check out this movie. It’s a movie that’s pretty unrealistic and unfeasible, however the character driven narrative and action help keep it from going off the deep end. If I had to rank this movie in a list of best Michael Keaton movies, it would fall just outside the top ten. In this case, it would be an honorable mention.
- The film is set in San Francisco, but was filmed in Pittsburgh. They used Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh, because it is a brick road like many of the roads in San Francisco. Also, the front of the hospital is One Mellon Bank Center located on Grant Street, the same building in the helicopter scene of Sudden Death (1995).
- In addition to some of the scenes filmed in Pittsburgh, an elaborate set was constructed in a vacant hangar at what is now known as the San Bernardino International Airport, what used to be Norton Air Force Base. The prison and the hospital were three stories high, and were connected by the concourse seen in the movie.
- Michael Bay was originally set to direct, but pulled out to do The Rock (1996).
- Michael Keaton and Joseph Cross would appear together again in Jack Frost (1998).
We’re Through Here
I Get The Opportunity To Kill Again
These Cigarettes Are Stale
Sorry I Can’t Get Up To Greet You Properly
Freedom From Cigarettes
I Need Some Help
They Told Me What An Asshole You Were
Are You Going To Forget Me?
Do You Have That Long?
My Son Needs Medical Attention
My Official Resignation