John Q. is a 2002 American thriller drama film starring Denzel Washington and directed by Nick Cassavetes. The film tells the story of John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington), a father and husband whose son is diagnosed with an enlarged heart and finds out he is unable to receive a transplant because HMO insurance will not cover it, before he decides to hold up the hospital and force them to do it.
The pace pf this film is appropriate given the amount of build-up that is needed to justify John deciding to take the hospital hostage in order for his son to have the operation he needs. In this same note, however, this film would have been even more successful if the audience was given some clue to the fact that john was considering a hostage situation in the first place. It's not completely unrealistic mind you, but the tone shifts from showing John "trying to do the right thing" (and failing) to being prepared to shoot hostages to get what he wants with very little elaboration on what changes for John internally to make this happen. This certainly doesn't take much away from this film, but it''s just something worth taking note of.
Denzel Washington is made to have roles like the one in this film; he's the perfect amount of gritty and 'soft', so his characters are well-rounded and easy to enjoy or even relate to. His acting is grounded and doesn't depend on exaggerated fluctuations or gestures, and this works to keep the audience engaged and curious about what he plans on doing next. I would go as far as to say that this is one of Washington's best performances, and that's saying something given his impressive repertoire up to this point in time.
Lastly, this movie has real world applications in the context of accessibility to healthcare. It is a well known fact that healthcare favors the rich and often leaves those in poverty at the mercy of professionals willing to give care without compensation - something that becomes increasingly harder to find as time goes on. 'John Q', in this way, is a fantasy for those that have no issues receiving proper health care and a dream come true for those that can relate to this struggle. The brief compromise between these two communities (the haves and the have-nots) is nothing short of social commentary and action and is valuable as such.
A heartwarming story with real world applications
I would recommend!