John Q

John Q

Infobox Film
name = John Q

caption = "John Q" promotional poster
director = Nick Cassavetes
producer = Mark Burg
Oren Koules
writer = James Kearns
starring = Denzel Washington
Robert Duvall
James Woods
Anne Heche
Eddie Griffin
Kimberly Elise
Shawn Hatosy
and Ray Liotta
Obba Babatundé
Ethan Suplee
Troy Beyer
Troy Winbush
Martha Chaves
Heather Wahlquist
Daniel E. Smith
as 'Mike'
music = Aaron Zigman
cinematography = Rogier Stoffers
editing = Dede Allen
distributor = New Line Cinema
released = flagicon|United States February 15, 2002
runtime = 118 min.
language = English
budget = 36 million USD
imdb_id = 0251160

"John Q" is a 2002 film starring Denzel Washington 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 donor's list. The film was directed by Nick Cassavetes

"John Q" is a protest against the policies and hidden procedures of many of today's insurance companies, "John Q" also stars Anne Heche, James Woods, Ray Liotta, Eddie Griffin and Robert Duvall, among others.

The film was shot in Hampton, Ontario (ballpark scenes) and Hamilton, Ontario, and Toronto, Ontario Canadacite web|url=,+Ontario,+Canada |title=Internet Movie Database - List of Films shot in Hamilton, Ontario|accessdate=2008-01-29] , although the story takes place in Chicago.


As the film opens, a young woman is driving a white BMW 5-Series down a rural-looking highway. A slow-moving truck impedes her progress, and she attempts to pass it by moving into the oncoming lane of traffic. Suddenly, a second truck looms in the oncoming lane, and it clips the woman's rear fender. The woman fishtails and comes to a stop in front of the first truck, which collides with her car, and she dies en route to the hospital (this whole ordeal is interspersed throughout the movie).

John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington) is with his wife Denise (Kimberly Elise) at his son's baseball game. As his son (Daniel E. Smith) runs around the bases and heads to second, he grabs his chest and collapses. After a series of tests at the hospital, John is informed that Michael has an enlarged heart and will need a transplant. However, his health insurance has been changed by the company he works for to a cheaper option and the new policy does not cover the surgery, so they must raise $250,000. Through yard sales and overtime work, the family tries to raise the money but the hospital decides to release Michael. John walks into the hospital emergency room and begins a hostage situation. He gathers the hostages and sets his demands: his son's name on the recipient list as soon as possible. The hostage negotiator, Lt. Frank Grimes (Robert Duvall), stands down to let John cool off.

Meanwhile, John and the 11 hostages communicate and learn more about each other. They begin to understand John's situation and support him a little as he ensures each of them receive the treatment they came to the emergency room for. One of them, Miriam (Troy Beyer), is pregnant and her husband Steve (Troy Winbush) is hoping that their first kid is healthy. A young hostage, Julie (Heather Wahlquist), has a broken arm, and she and her boyfriend Mitch (Shawn Hatosy) claim that a car crash caused it, but due to some plot holes in his story (and the fact that Mitch's only injuries are scratches on his arm) John and another hostage, Lester (Eddie Griffin), are able to conclude that Mitch is lying and that he had actually beat her up.

After a while, John agrees to release some hostages (as one of them is about to give birth and needs to go to the maternity ward but he doesn't give the police this reason) in return for his son's name being on the list an hour afterward. Steve and Mitch have an argument about who will walk out, and during the argument, Mitch says a racial statement to Steve, which infuriates him and he starts to shove Mitch around. But, when John tries to break them up, Mitch sprays him with ethyl chloride, used as a makeshift pepper spray type device, and stabs him with a scalpel. They fall to the ground and wrestle, and the gun is knocked away. Mitch tells Julie to get the gun, but instead, she picks up the ethyl chloride and sprays Mitch at close range. Blinded and furious, he insults her, and she kicks him three times; twice in the backside and once in the crotch. Some of the hostages laugh at this and praise Julie for taking a stand against Mitch. She then pulls off a blonde wig, throws it on him, and tells him she's not going to be his "Barbie" anymore. John then takes some handcuffs from the security guard, Max (Ethan Suplee), takes Mitch, throws the wig on him, pulls him over to the radiator and cuffs him to it. Then he releases Steve, Miriam, and a hostage named Rosa (Martha Chaves) with her baby.

The Chicago Chief of Police, Gus Monroe (Ray Liotta), overrides the efforts of Lt. Frank Grimes and gives a SWAT unit permission to insert a sniper into the building via an air shaft. Meanwhile, John speaks with his wife and then his son, telling them that the situation will be all right, unaware that a hidden camera in the hospital has been hacked by a news crew, and that his emotional conversation is being broadcast live on national television. The sniper shoots John, but the shot causes only a minor wound.

After taking the shot, the sniper's leg falls through the ceiling tiles and the outraged John gets up and pulls him out of the air shaft and beats him up. John's gunshot wound is treated by the emergency room staff, and using the bound SWAT policeman as a human shield, steps outside to the sight of dozens of policemen pointing weapons at him, as well as a large crowd gathered to support his cause. He argues with the negotiator, who tries to convince him that despite placing Michael on a top-priority organ recipient list, John can do nothing more for his son, and that whatever course he takes will result in his imprisonment or his death. John nevertheless demands that his son be brought to the emergency room, apparently for him to say goodbye to him, saying "I am not going to bury my son, my son is going to bury me!". The police agree to his demand in exchange for the SWAT sniper.

Once his son arrives, John reveals to the hostages his intention to commit suicide so his heart can be used to save his son. He persuades Dr. Raymond Turner (James Woods) to perform the operation, and two of his hostages to bear witness to a will stating his last request. John goes to say his last goodbyes to Michael, telling him to obey his mother and live honestly and responsibly. He tearfully leaves his barely-conscious son and goes to the operating room, where he reveals to the doctor and emergency room personnel that his gun was unloaded the entire time he held them hostage. John loads a single bullet into the gun and pulls the trigger, only to learn that the safety was on. As he holds the gun to his own head a second time and prepares to end his life, his wife is told about a woman killed in a car accident miles away, who happens to have the same blood type as Michael, and has been flown to the hospital for organ recovery. She runs to the emergency room and stops her husband from shooting himself, and John allows the hostages to go free. Michael is given the life-saving operation, and after watching the procedure with Denise, John is taken into police custody. He is later acquitted of charges of attempted murder and armed criminal action, but is found guilty of kidnapping and although it is unknown what his sentence for the crime will be, his attorney says it won't be more than 3-5 years, and that she'd try to get it down to 2 years.


As of April 18, 2008, "John Q" has a 22% "rotten" rating at the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. [ "John Q"] at Rotten Tomatoes.] Consensus among the many reviewers at the site was that, while "Washington's performance rises above the material, [. . .] "John Q" pounds the audience over the head with its message."


See also

* Health disparities

External links

*imdb title|id=0251160|title=John Q.
*rotten-tomatoes|id=john_q|title=John Q.

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