John Q

February 15th, 2002


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Still of Denzel Washington, Kimberly Elise and Daniel E. Smith in John QStill of Denzel Washington in John QNick Cassavetes in John QStill of Denzel Washington, James Woods and Shawn Hatosy in John QStill of Denzel Washington, Kevin Connolly and Kimberly Elise in John QRay Liotta, Anne Heche and Robert Duvall star

A down-on-his luck father, whose insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant, takes the hospital's emergency room hostage until the doctors agree to perform the operation.

Release Year: 2002

Rating: 6.7/10 (45,417 voted)

Critic's Score: 30/100

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Stars: Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, Gabriela Oltean

John Quincy Archibald's son Michael collapses while playing baseball as a result of heart failure. John rushes Michael to a hospital emergency room where he is informed that Michael's only hope is a transplant. Unfortunately, John's insurance won't cover his son's transplant. Out of options, John Q. takes the emergency room staff and patients hostage until hospital doctors agree to do the transplant.

Gabriela Oltean - Beautiful BMW Driver
Denzel Washington - John Quincy Archibald
Kimberly Elise - Denise Archibald
Ron Annabelle - Tow Truck Driver
Daniel E. Smith - Michael 'Mike' Archibald
David Thornton - Jimmy Palumbo
Barry G. King - Employee Manager
Laura Harring - Gina Palumbo (as Laura Elena Harring)
Kevin Connolly - Steve Maguire
Larissa Laskin - Dr. Ellen Klein
Vanessa Branch - Registered Nurse
Stephanie Moore - Admitting Nurse
James Finnerty - Nurse Reggie
Anne Heche - Rebecca Payne
James Woods - Dr. Raymond Turner

Taglines: Give a father no options and you leave him no choice.


Official Website: Metropolitan Films [France] (French) | New Line [United States] Story, cast, Filmmakers, gallery and downloads |

Release Date: 15 February 2002

Filming Locations: Ajax, Ontario, Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $36,000,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: $23,612,171 (USA) (17 February 2002) (2466 Screens)

Gross: $71,026,631 (USA) (28 April 2002)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The message "For Sasha" appears just before the end credits. This is a dedication to the director's daughter Sasha Cassavetes.

Factual errors: When John attempts to kill himself, he pulls the trigger and the hammer falls, but the gun does not go off because he says the safety is on. When a Beretta's safety is on, the hammer cannot be in the cocked position and the trigger mechanism is disabled, thus the hammer could not have fallen and pulling the trigger would have had no effect anyway.

Freddy B: We got sound! Boss! We got sound!
Tuck Lampley: What about picture? We need picture!
Freddy B: Hold on boss, I'm gonna make you famous!

User Review

Just Another "Dog Day Afternoon" in Hollywood.


Highly under-rated and ignored by most in 2002, "John Q" is one of those movies that is sometimes too intelligent for a viewing public unfamiliar with topics never really thought about in common societal circles (health care and insurance policies, rights of blue-collar citizens, media exploitation, law enforcement practices and over-paid medical specialists). Denzel Washington's young son falls out one day at a little league baseball game. The diagnosis is frightening. Without a new heart, the boy will most definitely die. Washington, a normal everyday citizen, lacks substantial resources and benefits from his insurance to even get his son on a donor's list. It is blatantly obvious that Washington and wife Kimberly Elise are being strangled by red tape in a mercilessly heartless (no pun intended) system. Friends Laura Herring and David Thornton (and seemingly countless other ordinary people) do their best to help the couple raise money and soon it seems that most everything they have is on the market to be sold. Work and more hard work does not get the couple much closer to having the money they desperately need. Washington realizes that time is now of the essence. He has been pushed and pushed again and now he takes it upon himself to push back. As a last resort he literally takes the doctor (James Woods) hostage, along with other bystanders who have nothing to do with Washington's war with the hospitals and insurance organizations. Immediately cops led by Robert Duvall and Ray Liotta surround the hospital and the tenseness builds. Hungry media cronies (who would not help Washington when he had asked earlier) also try to benefit from the misery of all those that are involved with their typical exploitation tactics (one thing Jerry Springer got right). Will Washington's son be saved and is Washington actually willing to take his own life in the venture so his boy can live? "John Q" is a very impressive production from director Nick Cassavetes (showing much of the same ability his late father John showed throughout his career). Screenwriter James Kearns gets to the soul of an American society that has been blinded by economics and inefficient big-wigs who have no business possessing the careers they have. Morality has gone out the window and that "hypocritical oath" that is so prevalent in the medical field seems to be little more than a silly afterthought. "John Q" succeeds everywhere just about except in its ending. The ending is a major mistake that took away from some of the good things accomplished before the final ten minutes. Washington, arguably better here than in recent triumphs like "Training Day" (an Oscar-winning role) and "Antwone Fisher", goes to an even higher plateau here. Much like Al Pacino in the equally under-rated "Dog Day Afternoon" (an admittedly better picture), Washington dominates in a role that thrives on a claustrophobic aspect that cannot be escaped or denied within the film's running time. Duvall and Woods are also solid, as always, but Washington is the man here. Strikingly accurate when pointing the finger at things wrong with America these days, "John Q" is a thought-provoking production that will cause its audience to think and learn about sometimes forgotten aspects of human life. 4 stars out of 5.