John Q.

Director:Nick Cassavetes
Writer:James Kearns
New Line Cinema; PG-13; 110 minutes
Cast:Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, James Woods

America, the richest country in the history of the world, is also incredibly greedy: skimping on aid to countries that most need it, toppling globally agreed upon environmental agreements with selfish veto votes, and, among many other things, refusing to provide national health care for its citizens. John Q. takes issue with the last item in a sentimental, manipulative mush anchored by Denzel Washington in noble mode.

John Quincy Archibald (Washington) is a devoted, hardworking Chicago father who's trying to support his family after being downgraded to 20 hours a week. Worse still, John's son collapses in a baseball game. A visit to the doctor reveals a dangerous heart condition. The boy needs an immediate, expensive heart transplant that Q.'s flimsy HMO doesn't cover. Anne Heche's cruel hospital administrator not-so-subtly suggests that they forget about the lifesaving operation and give the kid a few nice days before he dies. With simple desperation, gentleness, and a gun, John takes the hospital hostage. He only wants to save his son's life.

Washington handles John Q. very well, particularly in portraying the relationship with his wife (Kimberly Elise). The film has its heart in the right place, although sometimes it feels more like propaganda than entertainment.

See also: