More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.95%
Worth A Look: 24.59%
Average: 21.31%
Pretty Bad: 4.92%
Total Crap26.23%

4 reviews, 37 user ratings

Latest Reviews

To the Ends of the Earth by Jay Seaver

Wood Job! by Jay Seaver

News of the World by Rob Gonsalves

Promising Young Woman by Rob Gonsalves

Wonder Woman 1984 by Rob Gonsalves

Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone by Rob Gonsalves

Mank by Rob Gonsalves

Wander Darkly by Rob Gonsalves

Stand In, The by Rob Gonsalves

MLK/FBI by alejandroariera

subscribe to this feed

John Q
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"Sick! Help! Sick! Help!"
1 stars

The rabble-rousing "John Q" is supposed to make us angry, but it only made me angry at the movie itself.

The serious issue of health care -- or, more precisely, the disgraceful state of it in America for those who can't afford it -- is exploited and squandered in a manipulative hostage drama wherein Denzel Washington, driven around the bend because he can't afford the heart transplant his dying little boy desperately needs, brings a gun into the hospital and starts making demands. Never mind that there are other people in the emergency room (which he commandeers) who need medical attention and whose lives are put at risk. Never mind that the movie comes dangerously close to saying that the solution to a personal grievance is, well, terrorism, when you get right down to it.

No, we're expected to ride right along with Denzel (playing an everyman factory worker cutely named John Q. Archibald) as he rages against the machine. I sympathize with his dilemma and his anger; you'd be hard put to find anyone who wouldn't. But this man, who in a better movie might be drawn as a decent but deeply flawed and disturbed person, is shoved down our throats as a hero. John Q tries everything to get his boy onto the list for a heart donation, but the hospital (personified by Anne Heche in a performance that goes right past cold into Kurt Vonnegut's Ice-9, until a key moment when she thaws out) tells him he needs to put up $75,000 of the $250,000 cost of the procedure. Washington makes John Q's frustration -- and single-minded drive to raise the money -- palpable; he takes the premise far more seriously than it deserves.

What would you do if you were John Q (or Jane Q, named Denise here and played with moments of admirable directness by Kimberly Elise)? John Q doesn't seem to think of picketing outside the hospital, a guaranteed public-relations nightmare that might embarrass the hospital into capitulating. No, he grabs a gun and resorts to threats, being a working-class black man, of course. I doubt that director Nick Cassavetes or screenwriter James Kearns were conscious of the racism and classism at the core of John Q, but it's there anyway. The racism goes both ways, too: John's antagonists, Heche and a diffident heart surgeon snippily played by James Woods, are lighted as if dipped in bleach. This is known as cross-manipulation.

Robert Duvall is on hand as a hostage negotiator, who immediately breaks Kevin Spacey's first rule of said job in The Negotiator, telling John Q, "There's no way in or out." Ray Liotta, as a trigger-happy police chief, does an uninspired sequel to his Cro-Magnon FBI suit in Hannibal; Duvall's own performance is a follow-up to his retiring cop in Falling Down -- once again, Duvall, the bald-eagle Voice of Reason, has a monomaniacal nut with a gun to deal with. In the emergency room with John Q, there's a sort of trash-movie Greek chorus of stereotypes, including a wife-beating Guido (Shawn Hatosy) and a comic-relief black guy (Eddie Griffin) who actually suggests something like "We need to get some fried chicken up in here." Hell, make it a watermelon, go all the way with it.

Fortunately, a heart is on the way -- from a donor recently deceased in a car crash, but we don't feel too sorry for her, because we see from her car and its decor that she's got moola. Meanwhile, John Q stands before a gathering crowd outside the hospital -- it's Denzel's "Attica! Attica!" moment -- and delivers the following wisdom, which I swear is reproduced here verbatim: "When someone gets sick, they deserve help! Sick! Help! Sick! Help!"

So moved was I by this revelatory outburst that I now pass along some wisdom of my own: When a movie is bad, it deserves to be avoided! Bad! Avoid! Bad! Avoid!

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 12/29/06 09:13:13
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

1/23/16 mardphbco USA 2 stars
7/18/15 John jacobs Terrific Movie, what every parent would want to do 5 stars
7/18/15 John jacobs Terrific Movie, what every parent would want to do 5 stars
7/18/15 John jacobs Terrific Movie, what every parent would want to do 5 stars
3/27/11 Moica Completely ridculous melodramatic urealistic piece of garbage 1 stars
2/26/09 MARGELINE ADALLA gosh i really appreciated this film. its very touching, making us aware of health care sys 5 stars
8/13/08 Shaun Wallner Loved it Denzel Washington is great! 5 stars
3/30/08 Ana Beatriz I loved this movie!, TG that i didn't read this bad revews before, cause I could miss it! 5 stars
2/18/08 Pamela White unfortunately dealing with ins. companies are just this frustrating. 5 stars
1/02/08 Juris John Q is such a superb! great film! 5 stars
3/05/07 --- Too many unrealistic scenes and melodrama/overacting 2 stars
2/23/07 David Pollastrini liberal trash 3 stars
7/03/06 Indrid Cold Denzel is great as always, but the movie is schmaltzy, hyper-pc propaganda. 3 stars
1/03/06 cody a moving movie with soild and nice perf. by densel,good family film 4 stars
12/14/05 deadfishrman this movie wasnt bad 4 stars
11/21/05 steve newman Pleasently surprised - thought it was going to be awful 3 stars
8/25/05 ES This one and that other denzel movie are the ones I keep forgetting about 3 stars
7/27/05 Christopher Health care in the U.S. sure does suck. My insurance refused to cover my eye surgery. 5 stars
2/21/05 Captain Craig Gripping drama. Denzzel at his best 5 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams Fucking HMO bastard pieces of shit 5 stars
3/20/04 Jack-pyschO-Lantern Dog Day Afternoon, Swordfish & Phone BOOTH were better..................................... 4 stars
5/15/03 Tom Fleeman This was a beautiful movie. I loved it!! Denzel was brilliant! 5 stars
2/24/03 Clay Hiss the movie was a good one, people with HMO are screwed when it comes to operations like this 4 stars
1/03/03 . Just like real life for many ppl... Nice movie! 4 stars
8/26/02 Mike b Would have been a great movie if they didn't try to push their fucking agenda. 3 stars
8/10/02 Monday Morning Denzel Rules, John Q Drools. 4 stars
6/12/02 Robyn Jamil-Walid "Axe murderer" has a point but scarcely uses a name with emotional health written all over! 3 stars
5/26/02 G2 Wasn't too bad 4 stars
4/26/02 Film Guy Messy little movie 2 stars
3/28/02 Axe Murderer Gary vidmar has realy realy bad emotional problems 4 stars
3/16/02 Danielle Evans Really good movie for loud black folks!!!!!! 5 stars
2/28/02 mike d GREAT MOVIE !! REAL LIFE FOR 50 MILLION PEOPLE 5 stars
2/24/02 Boyd Petrie Heads up! Candidate for Donor List: in need of good script, acting, direction, and music! 1 stars
2/19/02 FrayLo It may have cliches, corny moments, but it is a damn good movie. 4 stars
2/16/02 Goldhammer 100% commie propaganda. Wanna donate to the Dems? Pay for a ticket. 1 stars
2/15/02 malcolm hokey as hell. w/o incredible-as-always Denzel, this film gets a 2 3 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  15-Feb-2002 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Nick Cassavetes

Written by
  James Kearns

  Denzel Washington
  Robert Duvall
  Anne Heche
  Ray Liotta
  James Woods
  Kimberly Elise

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast