Denzel Washington and cast fails to deliver confidence in “John Q”

By on March 21, 2002

With a movie full of stars such as this one the viewers might think it’s an instant classic. “John Q,” directed by Nick Cassavetes and (“She’s So Lovely”) stars Denzel Washington as Chicago factory worker John Quincy Archibald.
John and wife Denise (Kimberly Elise) are working to make very little into something. His hours get cut and Denise starts to work at a local supermarket trying to make ends meet. Everything is all fine until one day when their son Mike (Daniel E. Smith) is trying to stretch a single into a double during his little league game when he goes down for the count, almost.
The doctors say Mike’s heart is not good. It’s swollen to three times the size of a normal heart and he requires a transplant. The dilemma is that John does not earn enough money to afford a down payment for the transplant, and he makes too much to file for welfare. He also thinks he is covered by insurance, but his company recently switched their HMO.
Despite help from the community, co-workers and the church, John cannot raise enough money to satisfy the cynical hospital administrator Rebecca Payne (Anne Heche). The trailer ads have already informed us that John has used all options and eventually pulls a gun and holds the hospital hostage, demanding that his son be put at the top of the list of eligible transplant recipients.
All John wants is for his son to lead the transplant list, but the hospital will not allow a free surgery. Police Negotiator Frank Grimes (Robert Duvall) and Police Chief Gus Monroe (Ray Liotta) soon get the media involved as well as the entire city and nation.
Through all of the emotional and heartfelt family sentiment between John and his family, the penny-pinching doctors, brutal police officers, HMO-dissing patients and a coincidental car crash, the viewers can only wonder, “Is this all really happening?”
“John Q” is a very uplifting and entertaining, but lacks a decent and thorough plot. The movie is so coincidental that it makes the viewer laugh more than feel for “John Q.” The actors do not act with confidence throughout the movie.
We have yet to see Denzel Washington play a bad role or give a bad performance, and this movie continues with that trait, but his supporting cast does not make for a tremendous film. There are times when Police Chief Monroe is so nonsensical that it makes the audience laugh for no reason.
This movie makes the audience think about what is going on and eventually you get the feeling that you are being scammed. This hostage situation is similar to the Al Pacino movie “Dog Day Afternoon,” but unfortunately for Washington, Pacino’s script was easier and better written.
“John Q” has the potential to be a crowd favorite and Oscar nominee, but it’s direct shot and emphasis on how bad HMO’s are and the simple black man fighting the system ruins the feeling.
The movie lacks a scriptwriter who does not know his left from his right. Meanwhile the top-dollar cast makes the audience flock to the nearest theater. The movie is a chaotic disaster aiming at social activism.


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