Sometimes the apple falls very far from the tree. In John Q., director Nick Cassavetes abandons any shred of realism, landing miles from the work of his visionary father, John Cassavetes, and at least a football field short of a watchable movie. Granted, it would be difficult for anyone to dissect America’s health care crisis in two hours. But come on. At least try to offer some insight beyond rhetoric, a far-fetched scenario, and an epic battle between evil HMOs, hospitals, and doctors and good, humble citizens.
Denzel Washington is John Q. Archibald (giving him the last name ”Public” might be too, what, obvious?), a factory worker with a son in need of a heart transplant. When his insurance company balks and all of his honorable attempts to raise the money fail, Archibald succumbs to desperation and takes the emergency room hostage. Cassavetes dooms his stellar supporting cast to stereotypes: the aloof doctor (James Woods), the icy administrator (Anne Heche), the sympathetic cop (Robert Duvall), and the political police chief (Ray Liotta).
As ”John Q.” approaches its graceless conclusion, the boy’s blood pressure monitor counts down like a time bomb and we squirm in our seats, waiting for this bomb to end.