Denzel Delivers as Doctor Dithers
With the recession biting hard, John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington - Virtuosity) is doing his best to provide for his wife and son Mikey (Daniel E. Smith). But when Mikey is taken ill during a Little League game the situation becomes desperate as Mikey needs a heart transplant to save his life, something which John can ill afford. With both his insurers and the hospital unwilling to cover the costs John is forced to take matters into his own hands by taking the hospitals heart surgeon (James Woods - Riding in Cars with Boys ) along with anyone else stuck in the emergency wing hostage until they perform the life saving surgery.
"John Q." is a pretty decent movie, it may not be the greatest drama or thriller ever created, but the thought provoking storyline makes it far greater than you would expect. It focuses on the plight of a family, in particular that of the father and looks at how far he will go to save the life of his only child and after watching this, I found myself questioning as to how far I would be willing to go if I was in a similar situation. It may not be an original concept, there have been similar movies made before and since but it still remains thought provoking.
As well as this powerful and emotional story, "John Q." has some very good performances, which is not really a surprise with the calibre of its cast which includes Denzel Washington, James Woods and Robert Duvall. If I have one criticism of the movie, it is that although it is a hard hitting drama, at times it comes over a bit idealistic in some of its views. But to be honest, this hasn't stopped me from watching it on numerous occasions, as this is such a small part of what is in general a very good drama.
In the lead role of John Q. Archibald is the very talented Denzel Washington. Washington puts in a magnificent performance, as he demonstrates all the emotions that any parent would go through if their son was suddenly taken seriously ill. Opposite him as Dr. Turner, the chief heart surgeon is James Woods. You never know if you should be cheering or booing at Dr, Turner as his character seems to change from scene to scene. Alongside the both of them you have the police negotiator, Frank Grimes, played by Robert Duvall. Duvall puts in a great performance as the time worn cop, who can sympathise with John's plight despite it being a crime.
The biggest disappointment in the cast is Ray Liotta as the Chief of Police. In my opinion he comes over as an idiot rather than a highly respected official, whether this was how the character was meant to appear is never made clear. The rest of the cast put in good performances and you can't but help falling in love with John's son, Mikey played by Daniel E. Smith.
"John Q." is directed by Nick Cassavetes who is as well known for acting as he is directing. In general I feel that Cassavetes has done a decent job of making an enjoyable drama which also doesn't shy away from delivering a thought provoking message. If I have one criticism, it is that he either let Liotta get away with that performance or he didn't put enough emphasis on why the Chief of Police behaved like an idiot.
What this all boils down to is that "John Q." is a very good, hard hitting drama, which challenges you to examine your own thoughts on what would you do for a loved one. The movie itself is well made; it has a very good plot, great performances from most of the main cast and generally keeps you enthralled right up until the final credits.