John Q2002

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
It's impossible to walk away from John Q. without thinking about the film that could have been. The pathetic state of health care in the U.S. and the desperate behavior it engenders is not only worthy but edgy material; no doubt director Nick Cassavetes (She's So Lovely) and Denzel Washington (as well as Robert Duvall, Ray Liotta, James Woods, and Anne Heche) were drawn to the provocative pitch. The only snag is that John Q. has about as much edge as an after-school special. Washington plays John Quincy Archibald, a hard-working factory worker whose house stands to be repossessed and whose lovely wife (Kimberly Elise) is at her wits' end. When his extremely cute son collapses while rounding the bases in a Little League game, things go from bad to worse. John Q. takes a downtown Chicago emergency room hostage when he learns that the heart transplant his son needs won't be performed because his health care doesn't cover it. The action-drama that ensues--replete with one-liners, stilted debate, inept snipers, and multiple references to O.J. Simpson's white Bronco--is so littered with clich├ęs that the issues, timely ones, get lost in a crescendo of melodrama. --Fionn Meade

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