John Q (2002)

I wonder if my daddy would hold up a hospital for me.

Blue-collar worker John Q. (Denzel Washington) finds that his meager insurance won’t cover his son’s heart transplant, so he holds a hospital emergency room hostage until doctors agree to perform the surgery. Meanwhile, gung ho police chief Gus Monroe (Ray Liotta) and hostage negotiator Frank Grimes (Robert Duvall) try to diffuse the situation amid a media frenzy.

Well, you know from the Propaganda that John Q is a “good man vs the system” flick. The twist comes from the lengths to which John Q is willing to go.And I must say that a lot of this here works, but then a lot of it doesn’t.

The whole film I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what just was going to happen next. I liked how this was just an ordinary man, who one day loses control, because nobody will do anything about his son’s soon arrival of death. But beneath this suspense of what is going to happen next, there’s actually a very sweet theme. The film shows the drastic measure this father would do for his son, and there are plenty of scenes where we can’t help but root for John Q, because we know how we feel for a loved one and who knows what we would do to keep them alive.

There are also plenty of social messages speaking about the flaws within the American health care system, and their brought up well, but the problem is that director Nick Cassavetes isn’t letting us decide our own opinions and how feel about this for ourselves, he’s more or less, blatantly telling us what we should think. I didn’t like how they made these doctors seem like money-hungry assholes, because it’s just the world we live in. Money is money. I agree that the health care system is messed up, but blaming certain individuals just isn’t right, and won’t get anybody anywhere.

Despite these problems, Denzel Washington takes this whole film over in every way he can. Every chance Washington gets to show us this human being, he delivers every single emotion that this guy has. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just a guy who’s struck in a rut and will not bury his son. The film has his back the whole way, and with Denzel playing John Q., I did as well. The supporting is filled with many good stars as well. I liked seeing Ray Liotta and Robert Duvall play off each other every chance they got as the two cops trying to handle this situation. Anne Heche and James Woods are also very good, as well as sometimes evil as the two doctors here. Last but certainly not least, Kimberly Elise is absolutely marvelous as John Q’s wife, who does not once back down from a fight, and will not let her son die.

Consensus: John Q. benefits from great performances from the cast, especially Denzel Washington, but tells us what we should think about the American health care system too much, and is a little too messy. However, you will still like what you see by the end hopefully.



  1. Never saw “John Q” – I know it’s on Netflix Instant – maybe I’ll give it a watch.

    Though, I’m the biggest fan of films that try to shove messages down your throat.

    * Added you to my blogroll 😀

    Have a good Friday.

    Good review, as always Dan.

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