By EW Staff
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:49 AM EDT
John Q: Ava V. Gerlitz

John Q

  • Movie

It’s a good thing that ”John Q.”’s original November 2001 release date was reconsidered last summer: Post?Sept. 11 audiences might not have sympathized with a guy taking an ER hostage. But given the extra months’distance, the film could play as intended — as a nerve-racking drama about an ordinary dad (Denzel Washington) who snaps when health-insurance red tape keeps his young son (newcomer Daniel E. Smith) from getting the heart transplant he needs to survive. ”When I read the script, I thought this was going to be an exposé on what’s wrong with the American medical system,” says Cassavetes. ”It wasn’t about that at all. It’s a simple story about a family that’s in trouble.”

And the director could relate: His own teenage daughter was born with congenital heart disease and has been in and out of hospitals throughout her life. ”It’s going to sound stupid, but I did my first film for my mom [Gena Rowlands], my second film I did for my dad [John Cassavetes], and the notion came across as I read the script, ‘Oh wow, I’ll do this one for Sasha.’It seemed right.” Agrees actress Elise, cast as Mrs. Q., ”Nick’s a great director for this — because I’m basically playing him.”

Episode Recaps

John Q

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 100 minutes
  • Nick Cassavetes