John Q. Archibald is an ordinary man who works at a factory and takes care of his family. His wife Denise and young son Michael are his world. But when Michael falls seriously ill and needs an emergency heart transplant operation that John Q. can't afford and his health insurance won't cover, he vows to do whatever it will take to keep his son alive. With time and options running out, a desperate gamble becomes his only hope- he takes the emergency room hostage. As John Q. barricades himself inside the hospital along with his unwitting group of emergency room hostages, many of them in need of medical care themselves, he faces off with a veteran police hostage negotiator and a quick-tempered police chief who wants to bring a swift end to the stand-off.
Denzel Washington plays John Quincy Archibald, a man who's struggling to keep his family together. John's son has a heart condition and he finds his insurance won't cover the rapidly swelling medical costs, which will eventually have to include a heart transplant. The movie becomes "Dog Day Waiting Room" when John takes a group of people hostage at the hospital that's threatening to throw out his son. This country's sad state of health care for the poor and disenfranchised is a great movie subject. Until that film comes along, we'll have to endure "John Q.," which will leave most audiences in dire need of medical attention, though it would be hard to say if that need will come from the painful collection of plot cliches or Aaron Zigman's assaultive soundtrack. – Elvis Mitchell
2002-02-15 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of John Q.