Movie Reviews
11:32 am
Fri February 22, 2002

John Q.

In the most blessed country in the history of civilization, is it too much to think that all Americans could have adequate health care?

Fifty million Americans would cheer this movie about an African-American father who holds an emergency room hostage to get his son on a heart donor list. Those Americans are the uninsured, the disenfranchised, often minorities, who face serious lack of medical care because they are not strictly poor or they are underinsured because they went from full to part-time in a harrowing economic downturn.

This Denzel Washington average-laborer-against-the-system vehicle is a melodramatic polemic, a kick in the groin to HMO’s and Republicans who gum up health-care legislation; the film has weak character interaction, telegraphed plot turns, and forgettable dialogue. However, just like the equally lame "Collateral Damage" with Arnold Schwarzenegger, there are cultural truths I must give Hollywood praise for presenting. Many children might die because their parents can’t afford $250,000 for a heart transplant. In the most blessed country in the history of civilization, is it too much to think that all Americans could have adequate health care?

Director Nick Cassavetes ("She’s So Lovely") probably watched Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" a few times to see how a master creates reality in a similar hostage situation. There are too many clich?s and no Al Pacino in "John Q." for a favorable comparison. Despite the promise of "Lovely," Cassavetes is still laboring under the shadow of greater directors like his father, John, and Lumet.

No one has the right to jeopardize other citizens' lives to work out his personal fate. Only legislators may one day rescue the disenfranchised lower classes. The issue lives long after this mediocre movie.