February 2002
John Q.

Reviewed by Wilson Morales

John Q.

Distributor:New Line Cinema
Director:Nick Cassavetes
Screenplay:James Kearns
Cinematography:Rogier Stoffers
Producers:Mark Burg, Oren Koules
Cast:Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, Kimberly Elise, Eddie Griffin, Shawn Hatosy, Anne Heche, Ray Liotta, James, and Daniel E. Smith

After receiving great acclaim for his work in “Training Day”, followed by an Oscar nomination for that role, one would think that everything Denzel does now is golden. Sadly, that is not the case. His latest film, John Q, features an enormous amount of talent that shows promise on paper. But, when viewing this film, you will agree that although Denzel is good in his role, the script is mediocre and the film feels like an episode.

Denzel plays John Q. Archibald, a hardworking man who has trouble paying all his bills while supporting his family. His son Mike (newcomer Daniel E. Smith) hopes to be a bodybuilder. As Mike collapses while playing baseball, things get worse for John. He learns that his medical insurance won’t cover the heart transplant Mike will need. His wife Denise (Kimberly Elise) just started a job so she doesn’t have insurance. When the hospital director, Rebecca Payne, ( Anne Heche) tells John he needs $75,000 as a down payment to put Mike’s name on the organ recipient’s list, the pressure mounts as Mike’s blood level drops little by little. With almost no help from the cardiologist (James Woods), Mike takes matters in his own hands. He kidnaps Dr. Turner along with some other doctors and patients until his son gets the proper care ASAP. When the negotiator Grimes (Robert Duvall) arrives, along with the chief of police, Monroe (Ray Liotta), it’s only a matter of time before John’s hopes run out.

The lack of proper health care insurance has been a major issue in the media especially since Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign a few years ago. It’s also worth noting that Director John Cassavetes’s daughter happens to be on the organ recipient list. His intentions on the subject are worthy, but somehow he lost that concept and settled for a Hollywood story. Denzel is very good in having us believe he’s a man trying to do his very best to save his son. Aside from him, and Kimberly Elise, the other characters are just hanging around for plot purposes. There’s always one person with a high authority looking to “pull the trigger” to look good in front of the media. Not to give much away, but ask yourself if you have ever seen a hostage situation on TV and rooted for the kidnapper? There’s your answer.


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