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A Very Human and Affecting Drama...
ijonesiii21 December 2005
Denzel Washington continues to prove why he is one of the best actors in the business with his performance in JOHN Q, a moving, emotional, and tension-charged drama about a family man whose son needs a heart transplant; however, due to financial problems, his insurance won't cover the cost of getting his son on the donor list so John Q decides to take hostages in the hospital until someone arranges for his son to be on the donor list. Despite a preachy and simplistic screenplay, the intense direction and first-rate performances make this film work. I particularly loved Denzel's work here because this was a character unlike he had ever played before...Denzel usually played well-educated, intelligent lawyers and/or businessmen (with the obvious exception of TRAINING DAY), but here Denzel is playing an average Joe...a working stiff, struggling to pay bills and keep food on the table and a roof over his family's head who is driven to extreme measures to protect the family he cherishes so dearly. Washington gets strong support from Robert Duvall, solid as always as the hostage negotiator, James Woods as a wimpy surgeon, Anne Heche as an unsympathetic hospital administrator, and especially Kimberly Elise as John's wife. An emotional drama, wrought with tension, that will rivet you to the screen.
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Denzel Washington Rocks!
namashi_12 May 2011
Denzel Wasington Rocks! And this fact, is once again proved, with his terrific act in 'John Q'. Though a decent film, it's flaws come up evidently, but Denzel manages to hold you till the end.

Denzel stars as John Quincy Archibald, a father and husband whose son is diagnosed with an enlarged heart and then finds out he cannot receive a transplant because HMO insurance will not cover it. Therefore, he decides to take a hospital full of patients hostage until the hospital puts his son's name on the recipient's list.

The Idea is interesting & challenging. The film begins with a class, as the writing holds you. But, in the second hour, especially, the writing gets lose and even the culmination isn't as good as one expects it to be. Nick Cassavetes directs this emotional story, with patience. Cinematography & Editing are fine.

Acting-Wise: As mentioned right from the beginning, Denzel rules the show. A performance so well-done, that it holds you, even when the writing falters. In the supporting cast, Bobby Duvall, James Woods & Kimberly Elise are efficient. Anne Heche & Ray Liotta are passable. Others lend support.

On the whole, 'John Q' is interesting in parts, but what really stands tall in this film, is it's lead-star's performance.
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Excellent acting alive with emotion
au_law200128 December 2004
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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Just Another "Dog Day Afternoon" in Hollywood.
tfrizzell24 October 2003
Highly under-rated and ignored by most in 2002, "John Q" is one of those movies that is sometimes too intelligent for a viewing public unfamiliar with topics never really thought about in common societal circles (health care and insurance policies, rights of blue-collar citizens, media exploitation, law enforcement practices and over-paid medical specialists). Denzel Washington's young son falls out one day at a little league baseball game. The diagnosis is frightening. Without a new heart, the boy will most definitely die. Washington, a normal everyday citizen, lacks substantial resources and benefits from his insurance to even get his son on a donor's list. It is blatantly obvious that Washington and wife Kimberly Elise are being strangled by red tape in a mercilessly heartless (no pun intended) system. Friends Laura Herring and David Thornton (and seemingly countless other ordinary people) do their best to help the couple raise money and soon it seems that most everything they have is on the market to be sold. Work and more hard work does not get the couple much closer to having the money they desperately need. Washington realizes that time is now of the essence. He has been pushed and pushed again and now he takes it upon himself to push back. As a last resort he literally takes the doctor (James Woods) hostage, along with other bystanders who have nothing to do with Washington's war with the hospitals and insurance organizations. Immediately cops led by Robert Duvall and Ray Liotta surround the hospital and the tenseness builds. Hungry media cronies (who would not help Washington when he had asked earlier) also try to benefit from the misery of all those that are involved with their typical exploitation tactics (one thing Jerry Springer got right). Will Washington's son be saved and is Washington actually willing to take his own life in the venture so his boy can live? "John Q" is a very impressive production from director Nick Cassavetes (showing much of the same ability his late father John showed throughout his career). Screenwriter James Kearns gets to the soul of an American society that has been blinded by economics and inefficient big-wigs who have no business possessing the careers they have. Morality has gone out the window and that "hypocritical oath" that is so prevalent in the medical field seems to be little more than a silly afterthought. "John Q" succeeds everywhere just about except in its ending. The ending is a major mistake that took away from some of the good things accomplished before the final ten minutes. Washington, arguably better here than in recent triumphs like "Training Day" (an Oscar-winning role) and "Antwone Fisher", goes to an even higher plateau here. Much like Al Pacino in the equally under-rated "Dog Day Afternoon" (an admittedly better picture), Washington dominates in a role that thrives on a claustrophobic aspect that cannot be escaped or denied within the film's running time. Duvall and Woods are also solid, as always, but Washington is the man here. Strikingly accurate when pointing the finger at things wrong with America these days, "John Q" is a thought-provoking production that will cause its audience to think and learn about sometimes forgotten aspects of human life. 4 stars out of 5.
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A movie full of suspense and meant to open your eyes
quincymd8 April 2008
A very well cooked thriller, with every necessary ingredient, and a plot meant to surprise the viewer.

Full of love, passion, family issues, commercial interests and politics all blended into a magnificent work of art topped with Denzel Washington's performance The film shows many aspects of life, and should be seen by all people to evaluate one's point of view on each of the parallel stories depicted.

The Author takes an everyday situation and sows the seed of self - criticism in every spectator, making this more than a thriller to pass the time away.

The Director plays with the characters as a Master would play his pieces on a chessboard, giving each actor enough role and having a defined objective: to checkmate the audience, and I must say he does this with very few elements, mainly dialog sequences and very few Special effects, thus turning this film into a masterpiece.

Denzel Washington is the perfect choice for this film, due to his ability to play poker face situations, and his ability to play any kind of character he is offered.

I do highly recommend this movie, to see it two, three or more times. Every time one sees the film, gets a new detail to one's collection and a new question to answer. Ideal for family discussion and highly recommended for teenagers
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Deep Acting of Washington! Great!
Juan_from_Bogota20 April 2007
In this movie, with a great acting of Denzel Washington as John Q. I felt the deep problems of health in the USA. My cousin lives in the United States (i don't), and she told me a few complaints about this problem; in the movie i finally understood about that. I don't understand how, the most powerful country in the world does have such bad health services to it's people?. For the benefit of the Americans, i hope that they change this system soon. Denzel puts his hearth on this movie, playing a normal guy with financial problems and a hard work; the way that Denzel shows his love to his son is remarkable and demonstrates why he is one of the actual best actors in Hollywood. If you have seen Searching for David's Hearth (2004), this is as the other side of the story.

About the Movie: Denzel Washington plays John Quincy Archibald (John Q.) a husband and father with some financial problems that works almost 20 hours a day on a factory but who can't afford his expenses. John is trying to get a second job in order to earn an extra money. In the middle of this John's son Mike (Daniel E. Smith) is found to have a disease caused by a bigger than normal heart, and the doctors told him that he will die soon if they don't make a heart transplant. Here everything is hard but it gets really harder when John goes to the insurance company and get the notice that his insurance suddenly don't cover this type of procedures. John and his wife Denise (Kimberly Elise) start to make everything possible to collect the money (a lot of money) needed just to get his son on the donor's list, with their son dying an not much money, John desperate and takes the hospital's emergency room staff and patients hostage, demanding for to his son to be put on that list and that doctors do the transplant. The story evolves emotionally deep trough all this; in a remarkable script.

About the Cast: Denzel Washington put his soul onto this role, being by far the best of all!!, Kimberly Elise does good too, but a little exaggerated sometimes, Daniel Smith as Mike is pretty poor in his acting, he didn't had to do that much but this kid (sorry) still isn't a good actor; he has years to perfect his performance. James Woods acting as Dr. Raymond Turner, as always is very good and professional, also Anne Hache as Rebbeca Payne is great and show a coldness that ripped me out. Robert Duvall acting is good but his character could have been deployed even more, for the good of the film. Ray Liotta does good; Eddie Griffin is good too as one of the characters of the emergency room (Wow, this was a great cast!)

8/10! Excellent for Denzel Washington performance!
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iohefy-212 February 2002
Once again Denzel Washington has outdone himself in this delightful movie. I am getting spoiled when ever I go to see one of his pictures, as his depth is constantly great. Mr. Casavettes does a fine directing job in this poinient story, but with bits of humor thrown in to break up the tension. This may not be academy award material, but it certainly is worth the price of a ticket. Go see it, you won't regret it.
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A quite moving tale
mjw230516 January 2007
John Q (Denzel Washington) is just an average man, he works at a factory and his wife and his son Michael are his whole world. When his son is taken ill and needs an needs an urgent heart transplant, he soon learns that his insurance won't cover the bills and he has no real hope of raising the cash himself. In an act of desperation he holds the emergency room hostage, it's all he can do to get his son the care he needs.

I felt the film was fundamentally flawed, yet it was made and performed with such passion and realism, what at first seems like a far-fetched plot is soon forgotten about, and you have to just go with the flow of this emotionally charged drama.

The cast is very strong, and the direction holds the story together very nicely; but most of all it achieves what it sets out to do, and that is move the audience.

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Good Movie...
Movie-Guru18 June 2002
Despite what people have said, this movie is NOTHING like Dog Day Afternoon. The only similarities between the two is that both films have to do with holding a public place hostage (In Dog Day Afternoon it was a Bank in John Q, its a hospital). Sure, you see a sort of homage to Dog Day Afternoon in John Q, but thats it, the movie has its own plot. I enjoyed this film, Denzel Washington is really believeable as the down-on-his-luck father, and the rest of the supporting cast executed their characters very well. Most notably the great Robert Duvall as the hostage negotiator and Ray Liotta as the stuck-up police chief. I won't say more about this movie other than it is heart-breaking and you can almost feel the pain frustration John Q has to go through. 4 stars out of 5.
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Money is greater than the sum of a human life
3DPhil4 April 2009
This is now the second film that I have watched which focuses on Americas health care, or lack of it, I live in the UK where all our citizens get free health care no matter what there circumstances are, What have we come to in this world if money is greater than the sum of a human life, America and it's people should be ashamed of themselves to ever let this situation happen. The film shows this situation up very well, The acting was first rate and the film in the end is a very worthy effort. Denzil Washington does a fine job of showing how we all would feel if we were thrust into a nightmare situation that meant you could loose your child simply because you don't have enough money to pay the rip of prices of the blood sucking health system.
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Long Overdue!
Sylviastel17 January 2008
It's no secret that America has a health care crisis where about 50 million people are uninsured in this country. The story about John Q. is about his battle to save his son's life when the hospital and health insurance companies have failed his young son by declining to put his name on the heart transplant list. Two time Oscar Winner Denzel Washington does his best to bring life into this character that any other actor would not be able to do. Kimberly Elise is also admirable in her role as his wife. Anne Heche's performance as Rebecca Payne, the hospital administrator, is quite sickening because she plays the bureaucracy part of the role but she does it well. She can act as well. James Woods plays the rich, blood-sucking doctor who John Q. takes hostage along with other innocent bystanders and hospital staff but John Q. has a heart too. Ray Liotta and Robert Duvall have supporting roles as the police chief and hostage negotiator trying to get John Q. to end the standoff. The actions are understandable since a parent would do anything to save their child's life from known death.
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An important issue, although they got a number of things wrong.
lee_eisenberg16 March 2006
"John Q" was the first movie with which I'm familiar that looked at the health care situation in this country. Too bad that it had so many inaccuracies. The plot of course has economically strapped John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington) taking a hospital hostage to demand medical treatment for his son.

But, like I said, they misrepresented a number of things too many to enumerate here. But this movie's strength is looking at the disastrous effects of letting insurance companies run our health care system. You just may want to move to Canada after seeing this (although I haven't moved there). Also starring Kimberly Elise, James Woods, Anne Heche, Robert Duvall, and Ray Liotta.
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Excellent thriller that'll have you glued to your seat from start to finish
Catherine_Grace_Zeh21 November 2005
JOHN Q, in my opinion, is an excellent thriller that'll have you glued to your seat from start to finish. It sort of reminds me of THE NEGOTIATOR, only this movie mostly takes place in a hospital. I really loved John (Denzel Washington). This is because he wouldn't give up hope for his son (Daniel E. Smith). If I were him, I'd do something desperate, but not illegal. Grimes (Robert Duvall) made me feel good, too. It's hard for me to explain why. Now, in conclusion, I recommend this excellent, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat action movie that have you glued to your seat from start to finish to all you Denzel Washington or Robert Duvall fans who haven't seen it. When you see this movie, hold on tight and prepare to be taken on a wild ride. I also guarantee you you'll want to see it over and over again.
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A downer from son of John (I mean the director)
Quinoa198415 February 2002
I'm surprised at Nick Cassavettes, son of John ("Shadows" comes to mind), who has made a film here that contains some note-worthy elements including fine acting from some of the cast, a great scene during the opening credits, and a good premise. But the execution is something that started to really grate at me by the time the movie ended. Washington is believable as a John Q. who's son's heart needs to be transplanted, and doesn't have the insurance to cover it. Up until the main chunk of the film started to roll with John taking an emergency room full of conventional characters hostage with the also conventional cop characters on the outset, it seemed like a good idea for a movie by examining how insurance companies (as well as doctors and hospitals) screw over people in need. But no, the film plunges instead into scenes that tried way too hard to try and pull at the heart strings of the audience and I'm sure I wasn't the only one not so moved by the decisions and moves by the central characters.

In other words, there are a few tolerable moments of cinema squared into John Q., but it isn't worth sitting through all the drek that goes with it (maybe switch on and off from it when it comes on cable). C-
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my notes
FeastMode1 July 2019
Great movie with an enthralling story and superb acting by denzel. his acting job was seriously amazing. so many intense and suspenseful scenes. they did a great job of making you root for him. so many heart-wrenching moments. there were also a couple of questionable parts and some cheesy/corny parts (about 3 viewings)
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too melodramatic and so much yelling
SnoopyStyle26 January 2015
In Chicago, John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington) and wife Denise (Kimberly Elise) are struggling financially. Their son Mike collapses at the baseball game. Rebecca Payne (Anne Heche) is the hospital president and Dr. Raymond Turner (James Woods) is their cardiac surgeon. Mike needs a heart transplant but the HMO won't cover the minimum $250k. They can't get any help no matter how hard they try. In desperation, an armed John takes over the emergency room. Police Lt. Frank Grimes (Robert Duvall) negotiates with him.

It's an over-the-edge melodrama. The problem is that everything is pushed to the edge. Denzel is crying in the first 15 minutes. I appreciate the message but it's lost in the montage of frustration. Denzel is pushing so hard to be hyper angry that it's difficult to root for him. If Denzel and Kimberly could calm down early on, the audience could embrace them. In fact, everybody seems to be yelling in this movie. It's a hard movie to like.
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the wrong ending
VinylSound25 January 2003
They had us (sort of) in the palm of their hands, but the ending was a pathetic triumph of focus group indecision. Denzel Washington's character would have ended in suicide. THAT is the best ending for this film, the most realistic and the the most heart felt. The ending that the movie stuck to caters to the weak spirited Hollywoodisms that have caused most of us to be cynical about what comes from that movie making capitol.
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A sign of the times.....
WalterFrith23 March 2002
While the working poor always get it stuck to them, 'John Q' is a timely film showing the effects of a widening gap between the rich and poor. Rich people certainly deserve the best care they can afford because let's be honest, if we were rich, we would expect the same thing. While the rich can afford private rooms and private care, we all deserve the right to the best standard care that can save our basic lives. There are many in America who say that health care is NOT a right. Of course it is because doctors take the hippocratic oath to help EVERYONE and then it gets distorted into a business. While not condoned, the actions of Denzel Washington do save his son's life in 'John Q' and while America continues to be the only G-7 nation not to have socialized medicine for all its people, here in Canada we are slowly seeing the decay of our health care situation into a two tier system where the rich will get better care than everyone else. As the film tries to make this political point, there are big holes in the script in some of the situations but the conclusion is right on target as it does not excuse John Q's actions entirely. He has the majority of the public support on his side and that is the secret message that if people help each other, namely doctors, insurance companies, HMOs, and rich hospitals, what a better world this would be.
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I sense a double standard...
Spleen24 July 2002
It's not THAT bad. I've seen far worse. We all know the rule: a Hollywood movie can get away with being as much of a silly, manipulative and cliché-ridden propaganda vehicle as it wants, provided that the propaganda is right-wing rather than left-wing - which it usually is. Here we have a movie which implicitly argues (sometimes with more subtlety and intelligence than is immediately apparent) that the United States should cough up the money for a comprehensive public health insurance scheme ... either by raising taxes (as one of the talking heads hints at the end), or, say, cutting "defence" expenditure. I mention the latter possibility because of the constant flood of Hollywood movies that implicitly argue, without being challenged on the point, in favour of maintaining defence expenditure. People don't respond to "Top Gun" (at least, they don't do so on the IMDb site) by pointing out that the US military guzzles at least 40% of the annual tax intake and that almost every cent goes towards subverting democracy and ruining peoples' lives around the world; anyone who did point this out would be told to put their personal biases aside and enjoy the fantasy. "John Q" is roughly as obvious and shallow in its manipulation, and neither more nor less enjoyable if you're willing to play along, but it got a much rougher ride. One writer here even chastised the film for failing to mention the high rate of income tax Australians must endure in exchange for public health care, to which I have to respond: (1) sadly, we won't have public health care for much longer, since the present government is determined to abolish Medicare, and, given the cunning way it's setting about doing so, is likely to succeed, and (2) Australians are taxed at roughly the same rate as Americans, and at a considerably lower rate than the Western average.

I'm kind of ignoring the whole gun-toting, hostage-taking thing, which made the film dumber, less effective and less enjoyable; but my verdict is still that the film has been attacked not so much because it's bad (and I suppose I have to admit it is - although, as I said earlier, not THAT bad), but because some people will gasp in horror at the faintest whiff of socialism.
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Really Good!
SonicStuart11 April 2004
Starring: Denzel Washington and Robert Duvall

Genre: Drama/Crime

Rated PG-13 for Violence, Language and Intense Thematic Elements

Star Rating: ****1/2 out of 5

This was one of my favorite Denzel Washington movies ever! This movie is about a man named John.Q who had a great life until his son's heart stopped working and they had to rush him down to the Chicago Hospital. The insurance didn't cover his son's transplant, so in order for his son's recovery John (Denzel Washington) holds the Emergency Room hostage until the doctors agree to get the transplant successful! I thought Denzel Washington made another good performance in this movie even though it was nominated for any Academy Awards like the movie he did before this one, Training Day with him and Ethan Hawke. I thought that kid was cute especially when he was doing impressions of wrestlers.

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An extreme look at what's wrong with US Health-care
PudgyPandaMan9 February 2009
This is a movie with a message. While I don't agree with all the premises, and think that vigilante justice isn't usually the way to solve things - this movie does present some strong arguments.

But I realize that they did many things to slant the story to get the audiences sympathy - even, if like myself, you are not a proponent of a socialist health-care system for our Democratic country. The best way they did this was by casting an adorable child as the innocent victim of a health-care system gone wrong. Add to that the very loving parents, played quite effectively by Denzel Washington and Kimberly Elise, who are also hard workers, and there is very little to fault them for the situation they find themselves in. Granted, this isn't the case for everyone in the US who find themselves without coverage (as there are many who are just too lazy to work and expect the government to provide all their needs without their making any effort).

But, with politics aside, this is a very powerful movie that is heavy on the pulling of the heart strings. They do a great job of building and escalating tension throughout the movie - though some may find it manipulative. There is quite a stirring sacrifice offered near the end that I won't reveal but it really took me by surprise.

I think one of my favorite scenes is the opening sequence with the impatient lady driving the BMW erratically through the mountains. It was beautifully filmed in slow motion with a rousing classical score to accompany. It was truly memorable and rather shocking in itself in the outcome and how it later ties into the resolution of the movie.
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A plot that actually draws the characters into it!
moviedude120 December 2003
Washington is John Q Archibald, a family man, not unlike a lot of us...a wife, a child, struggling to make ends meet and living the song, "Too much month at the end of the money."

But when his son collapses, events unfold that become a parent's worst nightmare...and lead Washington on a quest where even his actions do not make the guarantee that he's ultimately working for: life...

This is an excellent movie! Washington was surrounded by a cast that drew upon each other, and the ensuing arguments he had with the characters of James Woods and Anne Heche showed the world just how cold hearted the medical community can be sometimes.

But even colder was the police chief on the outside. Ray Liotta appears as the Chief of Police and not so much worried about how they are going to resolve the situation Washington has found himself in, but how they're going to look in front of the press while doing it. His lieutenant, played by Robert Duvall, seems to have more of a grasp of the situation than any one else and the interactions between Duvall and everyone involved was great. His character kept one goal in mind...resolve the situation with as few casualties as possible.

I gave this movie 8 out of 10.
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The combination of conventional components result in an overall exceptional movie
Perception_de_Ambiguity19 October 2008
During a baseball game, John Quincy Archibald's son Michael collapses and is diagnosed as having a major heart defect that requires a transplant ASAP. Sadly John and his wife, Denise, don't have enough insurance to cover the cost of such an operation, no matter what they do they just can't come up with enough cash to save Michael's life. Desperate and angry at the money laden red tape, John takes the ER room hostage and demands that the transplant be done.

For the most part it is horribly conventional and certainly doesn't come without flaws, but I find it intriguing, topically. I know the general public will say it's heavy-handed, preachy or something to this effect.

I like how this drama turns into a crime picture/thriller after half an hour, which came totally unexpected to me when I first saw it, knowing practically nothing about the movie. It made you care a lot about the characters without boring you during their introduction. It presents a crime to you (a hostage situation) that to most people will seem justified, something rather unusual in movies. (V for Vendetta comes to mind, which makes terrorism seem justified.) Whether the crime is actually justified or not is the question 'John Q' asks the audience. And that's where, I think, the film succeeds. In offering a basis for further meditation and discussion about the topics and questions raised by the film.

Furthermore it also is one of those "What would you do in this situation" movies that I like so much. Such motion pictures don't even have to do much to convince me, as half the flick is playing out in my head anyway. Those two things together with the fore-mentioned appreciated unexpected switch of genre half-way through make this overall unexceptional film absurdly exceptional to me. Maybe because the individual, conventional components work in this unusual package.

(plot summery contributed by my friend and fellow IMDber Spike)
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Too Sentimental,too tearfull but still good.
CharltonBoy27 December 2002
Denzil Washington certainly knows how to pick a good film and he has picked another with John Q but i cant help but think this could have been so much better if it didnt have so much Schmaltz and and tears. Even though this film does go way overboard with sentimentality it is still a very entertaining film that you cant fail to enjoy. There are some good well known actors in this film but although their performances are fine they dont really gell as a group on screan. I would have loved to have seen some tense scenes between Ray Liotta and Denzil Washington but sadly they fail to meet on screen. A good film , maybe more suited to the person who like a weepie. 7 out of 10.
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Denzel Washington is the best actor of our time.
shrek20047 July 2003
This is a wonderful movie. It is hard not to take your eyes off John

Q and his family during the whole movie. Denzel Washington is

defenitely the best actor of our time. I also liked how they kept this

drama serious but DID add a few "comedic moments" with Eddie

Griffin and some of the other hostages. They were a nice relief. I

give this film 10/10!
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