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Desperate Measures [VHS]

Desperate Measures [VHS]

Michael Keaton does a credible impersonation of Hannibal Lecter in this far-fetched but pulse-quickening thriller about a cop (Andy Garcia) whose dying son needs a rare form of bone marrow possessed only by a death-row psychopath (Keaton). After agreeing to become a donor, the killer uses the procedure as an opportunity for escape, taking over the hospital and grabbing hostages. The story’s promising hook is that Garcia’s character himself has to defy authorities in order to end the siege and extract Keaton unharmed. That’s pretty much the course of action for the rest of the film, though a failure to make all this completely believable becomes a problem. Director Barbet Schroeder, pursuing a theme consistent with the unholy ties forged between crazies and noncrazies in his earlier films (Reversal of Fortune, Single White Female), strains to create a psychic bridge between the desperate hero and Keaton’s mind-bending villain. While the effort is laudable, the connection between cop and criminal is a little too obvious for penetrating exploration. Some of the action sequences, too, are misguided and redundant. Having said that, however, it is always fun to watch Keaton play nut cases, and his character’s glee at feeling his power exponentially grow in this situation is highly entertaining. Marcia Gay Harden does a good job as a kind of intermediary in the tense scenario, an ally to the good guy and forced confederate of the bad guy. –Tom Keogh

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