Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nick Cassavetes|
|Produced by||Mark Burg|
|Written by||James Kearns|
|Music by||Aaron Zigman|
|Edited by||Dede Allen|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Running time||116 minutes|
John Q is a 2002 American thriller film directed by Nick Cassavetes. The film follows John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington), 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 film also stars Robert Duvall, Anne Heche, James Woods, Ray Liotta and Eddie Griffin, among others. The film was shot in Toronto, Hamilton, Ontario, and Canmore, Alberta, although the story takes place in Chicago.
In the opening scene, a careless driver in a white BMW weaves dangerously in and out of traffic while driving on a curvy, mountainous road. While attempting to pass a tractor trailer, she is clipped by another, oncoming tractor trailer, swerves, then watches helplessly as the car she attempted to pass violently impacts her car.
John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington) and his wife Denise (Kimberly Elise) are experiencing financial difficulties. John wakes up to the sound of the family's truck being towed outside and attempts, without success, to dissuade him from completing the tow. At his baseball game, the Archibalds witness their young son Michael (Daniel E. Smith) collapse while running the bases. After a series of tests at the hospital, John is informed by Dr. Raymond Turner (James Woods) and Rebecca Payne (Anne Heche), a hospital administrator, that Michael has an enlarged heart and will need a transplant. However, because the company he works for dropped John from full-time to part-time, his health insurance has been changed and the new policy does not cover the surgery, leaving them to raise 30% ($75,000) of the $250,000 in order to get their son's name on the donor list. The family tries everything they can to raise the money, but are only able to come up with about a third of the necessary payment. Eventually the hospital gets tired of waiting and decides to release Michael, leading Denise to tell John to "do something". Unwilling to let his child die, John walks into the hospital ER with a handgun, gathers hostages, and sets 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 as they wait in the ER's waiting room. 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: Miriam (Troy Beyer), is pregnant and going into labor, and her husband Steve (Troy Winbush) is hoping that their first kid is healthy; Lester (Eddie Griffin), a wisecracking man, has a hand injury from unknown causes, which is soon treated by ER nurse Maguire (Kevin Connelly); Rosa (Martha Chaves), who speaks only Spanish, is there with her infant son who has an ear infection; 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 inconsistencies in their story and their injuries, John and Lester are quickly able to conclude that the story is a lie, and the injury's true cause is from Mitch physically abusing Julie.
After a while, John agrees to release some hostages in return for his son's name being on the list an hour afterward. Shortly afterwards, Mitch's cocky, disrespectful behavior wears on Steve's nerves, causing the two to nearly get into a physical confrontation. When John attempts to intervene, Mitch quickly turns on and attacks him with ethyl chloride (used like mace) and a scalpel. John fights back and loses his weapon in the scuffle. Upon this, Mitch yells at Julie to retrieve the gun to end the hostage situation. However, Julie, having become fed up with Mitch's abuse and attitude, stands up for herself, maces him with his own ethyl chloride, and assaults and dumps him on the spot when he insults her, much to everyone's amusement and admiration. John then handcuffs Mitch to the room's radiator to prevent any further trouble from him, before releasing Steve, Miriam, Rosa, and her baby.
The Chicago Chief of Police, Gus Monroe (Ray Liotta), deciding to end the situation as soon as possible for political purposes, overrides Grimes's efforts, and gives a SWAT unit permission to insert a sniper into the building via an air shaft. John is shot but ends up receiving only a minor wound, which is treated right away. After taking the shot, the sniper's leg falls through the ceiling tiles and the outraged John pulls him out of the air shaft and beats him up before using the bound SWAT policeman as a human shield as he steps outside to the sight of dozens of policemen pointing weapons at him as well as a large crowd gathered to support his cause. John demands that his son be brought to the emergency room. 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. Turner to perform the operation thus knowing he will get his license revoked for it, and two of his hostages bear witness to a will stating his last request. John goes to say his last goodbyes to Michael and goes to the operating room. He loads a single bullet into the gun (revealing to the hostages that he never intended to shoot anyone but himself) and pulls the trigger but the safety is 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 crash, the one from the white BMW in the opening scene, 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 John 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. Three months later, at his trial, all of the witnesses speak on his behalf. He is later acquitted of charges of attempted murder and armed criminal action but is found guilty of kidnapping and false imprisonment.
It is never revealed what his sentence for the crime will be but his lawyer is overheard saying that no judge will give him "more than three to five" and that she will try and get it reduced to two. On his way to jail, Lester says: "John... you're my hero." Michael thanks his father for saving his life, and gives him one of his favorite bodybuilding poses.
- Denzel Washington as John Archibald
- Kimberly Elise as Denise Archibald
- Daniel E. Smith as Michael "Mike" Archibald
- James Woods as Dr. Raymond Turner
- Anne Heche as Rebecca Payne
- Robert Duvall as Lt. Frank Grimes
- Ray Liotta as Chief Gus Monroe
- Shawn Hatosy as Mitch Quigley
- Heather Wahlquist as Julie Bird
- David Thornton as Jimmy Palumbo
- Laura Harring as Gina Palumbo
- Troy Beyer as Miriam Smith
- Kevin Connolly as Steve Maguire
- Troy Winbush as Steve Smith
- Vanessa Branch as Nurse
- Eddie Griffin as Lester Matthews
- Martha Chaves as Rosa Gonzales
- Larissa Laskin as Dr. Ellen Klein
- Ethan Suplee as Guard Max Conlin
- Obba Babatundé as Sgt. Moody
- Paul Johansson as Tuck Lampley
- Dina Waters as Debby Utley
- Keram Malicki-Sánchez as Freddy B.
- Stephanie Moore as Admitting Nurse
- Gabriela Oltean as Beautiful BMW Driver
In Blu-ray DVD commentary on the Deleted Scenes with Cassavetes and writer James Kearns, the main theme of the movie was said to be "about a miracle and John's faith in God creating the miracle". They also mentioned how SWAT team advisors for the film related a similar true incident in Toronto where a man (Henry Masuka) took an ER hostage after it would not provide immediate service to his infant son on New Year's Eve 1999. When he exited the ER he was shot and killed and found to be carrying an unloaded pellet gun. A character building scene at the beginning of the film was shot in Cambridge, ON at a manufacturing facility owned by Babcock & Wilcox. Denzel is shown using a grinder as he stands over a tubesheet destined for a steam generator for a nuclear power generating facility.
During shots of the news coverage surrounding the hostage situation in the hospital, a cameo by Senator Hillary Clinton occurs. Sen. Clinton argues for healthcare reform, especially in regards to cases like this one.
The film opened in first place at the box office, taking $23,275,194 during its first weekend. It ended up with a total domestic gross of $71,026,631 and $102,244,770 worldwide.
The film received generally negative reviews, with a 23% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the consensus being that "Washington's performance rises above the material, but John Q pounds the audience over the head with its message." It also has a score of 30/100 ("generally unfavorable reviews") from Metacritic.
- Health disparities
- Tathastu, a Hindi film (starring Sanjay Dutt and Ameesha Patel) that is an unofficial remake of John Q.
- Dog Day Afternoon, an earlier film with a similar hostage premise
- "Reel Toronto: John Q". online news. Torontoist.
- "Internet Movie Database - List of Films shot in Hamilton, Ontario". Retrieved 2008-01-29.
- Audio commentary on the DVD.
- Rush, Curtis (10 December 2011). "In tailspin after police shootings, former SWAT team leader lifts veil on post-traumatic stress syndrome". Toronto Star. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
- "Inquest into fatal hospital shooting begins" CBC News, April 17, 2001.
- Rotten Tomatoes- John Q
- "John Q" at Metacritic.
- Hooli, Shekhar H. (15 March 2010). "Sugreeva – Review". oneIndia. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
- "Tathastu? Or is it John Q?". South Asian Women's Forum. 10 May 2006. Retrieved 29 February 2012.