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JOHN Q, 2002
Starring: Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, Anne Heche, Kevin Connolly, Kimberly Elise, James Woods
A down-on-his luck father, whose insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant, takes the hospital's emergency room hostage until the doctors agree to perform the operation.
We've all done crazy things for those we love. We've all made sacrifices and taken risks when we're pushed to desperation by forces we can't really control in a last ditch effort to take the world by the balls and say “Hey! This is what I need to happen, so make it happen!” Somehow, I think holding a hospital along with it's patients and staff hostage at gun point seems a bit... shall we say drastic.
John Q. Archibald is a down-on-his-luck father who had his hours cut from full-time to part-time after company cutbacks. Due to his sudden drop in pay, he has to pick and choose which bills to pay, and as a result, his car gets repoed. This naturally causes friction between him and his wife, Denise.
John and Denise are both present at their son's baseball game when the boy suddenly drops and starts convulsing. They rush him to the emergency room where they are informed that his heart is enlarged to about 3 times the size it should be and he's going to need a heart transplant in order to live longer than a couple of weeks. The Archibalds give the go-ahead if it'll save their son, but the hospital tells them they can't afford it. The cost of the operation is $250,000. John insists that he has health insurance through his company, but the hospital drops the bomb that due to John's hour cutback, his company has changed his plan from a PPO to an HMO which will not cover the operation. In such cases, the hospital will allow them to be cash clients, but they have to put up 30% as a down payment before they can proceed... $75,000!
John goes to his company, who apologizes for the change in policy and inconeinence and offers to give John the $20,000 that his new policy will cover. John gets to work trying (and failing) to raise the other $55,000. All the while his son is dying in his hospital bed. The hospital refuses to do anything about it until they have their money, and infact schedule to have the boy released from the hospital. Denise tells John he had better do something about it! And he does, by showing up at the hospital with a gun and taking the surgeon who would do the operation hostage, as well as another doctor, a nurse, a medical coder, and several patients in the emergency waiting room. When the police and S.W.A.T. Team show up, John makes his demands: to have his son put on the organ recipient list NOW.
While the police try to find a way to either take John into custody or kill him before he can kill any of the hostages, John and the hostages bond over their dislike of how the medical care system is run (which only the surgeon defends, saying everyone else doesn't know what they're talking about).
“John Q.” is a powerful story with many ups and downs that run the audience through the ringer of wondering what's going to happen next. The primary character is both good guy and bad guy of the movie, which is an interesting thing that we don't see in many movies (in fact, the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Gerard Butler in “Law Abiding Citizen”). You care about him and what his family is going through despite the fact that he's technically a terrorist!
The acting is great all across the board, from Denzel Washington all the way down to the hostages who are mostly just talking environment in their purpose. Denzel shows why he's one of the great actors around, although he's often severely under used now-a-days in favor of other African American actors like Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson.
Everything about this movie sings... until the final scene of the film however when we see the consequences of John Q.'s actions. Yes, the ending was realistic, but it just feels like a well-placed kick to the groin to see it unfold that way.
“John Q.” is a great and severely under rated film that was an intense roller coaster of emotion and a joy to watch.
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