After his latest flop, the veteran actor is being urged to retire or work in small independent movies to help young directors.
15 Feb 2010 - 12:00 AM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2012 - 2:30 PM

Harrison Ford's name in the credits used to be a virtual guarantee of box-office success. Not any more. His latest effort, Extraordinary Measures, bombed in the US, another misfire after Crossing Over, Firewall and Hollywood Homicide.

True, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a worldwide hit, but at 67 the actor can't sustain a career from the whip-cracking adventurer, even though there is talk of a fifth Indy epic.

After Extraordinary Measures opened in the US (it debuts here on April 29), IndieWire's Anne Thompson offered some free advice: “Harrison Ford should retire here and now. He sounded like death warmed over at the Globes, and has no clue what movies to do.”

The film features Ford as a brilliant scientist working on an enzyme that can potentially save the lives of children with a fatal genetic disorder. To find a cure, he joins forces with Brendan Fraser as a businessman who has two sick kids, which puts them in conflict with the medical establishment.

An inauspicious debut from CBS Films, the film directed by Tom Vaughan (What Happens in Vegas), was panned by Salon mag as “about as dramatically taut as your garden-variety board meeting,” while other critics likened it to a disease-of-the-week weepie from the 1970s.

Den of Geek's Simon Brew noted, “It's always been a bit of a frustration that, at the peak of his powers, Ford didn't choose edgier projects to lend his star power to. Among the roles that he reportedly turned down in that time were Michael Douglas' part in Traffic, George Clooney's Oscar-winning role in Syriana (a decision he admits he regrets), Kevin Costner's in JFK, Liam Neeson's In Schindler's List, Val Kilmer's in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Nick Nolte's in Cape Fear. That's quite a list of challenging, interesting projects that he chose not to commit to for whatever reason. It almost felt like he was playing safety first.”

Hollywood and Fine's Marshall Fine suggests that Ford and two similarly wealthy stars in Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson consider retiring from the blockbuster business and focus on small independent films that interest them, in return for a basic salary and a small piece of the profits. In Fine's scenario, these guys would be available to first-time and rising directors who have a vision but lack the funds to make their low-budget films.

Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells doubts that possibility, opining, “You'd think that a marquee-name actor with several hundred million in his or her bank account would want to make movies for quality-chops alone and hang the box-office. But for some perverse reason the richer actors get the less inclined they are to make smallish films. (Bruce Willis is an exception.) The only actors who act in bare-bone indie flicks are those who have no other choice.”

As for Ford, maybe his luck will change with his next film, Morning Glory, a comedy directed by Roger Michell for Paramount. Perhaps, although the plot sounds dicey: Ford and Diane Keaton play feuding anchors of a TV morning show, with Rachel McAdams trying to keep the peace as their producer and Jeff Goldblum as her boss.