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John Quincy Archibald takes a hospital emergency room hostage when his insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant.



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2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gabriela Oltean ...
Ron Annabelle ...
Tow Truck Driver
Jimmy Palumbo
Barry G. King ...
Employee Manager
Gina Palumbo (as Laura Elena Harring)
Dr. Ellen Klein
Registered Nurse
Admitting Nurse
James Finnerty ...
Nurse Reggie


John Quincy Archibald's son Michael collapses while playing baseball as a result of heart failure. John rushes Michael to a hospital emergency room where he is informed that Michael's only hope is a transplant. Unfortunately, John's insurance won't cover his son's transplant. Out of options, John Q. takes the emergency room staff and patients hostage until hospital doctors agree to do the transplant. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Give a father no options and you leave him no choice.


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, language and intense thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

15 February 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Q.  »

Box Office


$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$23,612,171 (USA) (15 February 2002)


$71,026,631 (USA) (26 April 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie was shot in a group of provincial government buildings in Toronto. Adjacent to filming is a hospital. On at least one occasion, filming blocked off the access to the real emergency room of the real hospital. See more »


Police are allowed to lie especially to resolve hostage situations. There's no reason they couldn't just tell John his son's name is on the list and then arrest him as soon as he walks out. This was actually suggested by an officer in the film, but simply ignored by everyone. See more »


Lester: [laughing in realization] I get it, you a member of the Slapaho Tribe.
See more »


Referenced in The Holiday (2006) See more »


Justice of the Heart
Written by Stevie Wonder and Brenda Russell
Performed by Stevie Wonder
Produced by Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder appears courtesy of Motown Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent acting alive with emotion
28 December 2004 | by (Philippines) – See all my reviews

Denzel Washington's portrayal of a desperate dad is excellent and compelling as he struggles to find a way to get his son to be treated and operated immediately, no matter what cost. He takes the whole hospital hostage until he gets it. One may say what he is doing is bad and illegal, but at the same time he stands up to the system, and fights the odds, but hey, he's doing it for his son. I praised him when he said "I don't want to bury my son, I want my son to bury me!" In a way, he's willing to sacrifice himself to save his son. The hostages he takes, seems to support him and the mass of audiences viewing are on his side. And he also seems to be calm and friendly to them too. The ending was also perfect, and overall a great film, and not to mention the great performances from Robert Duvall, James Woods and Ray Liotta of The Good Fellas, who uses his Tommy Vercetti voice again! Gotta love that guy, gotta love that Denzel Washington, recommended for those who love him.

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