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JOHN Q

A severely stressed factory worker, unable to scrape together $250,000 for the heart transplant that will keep his son alive, whips out a gun and holds the occupants of an emergency room hostage.

(Now in stores)

CAST: Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, James Woods, Eddie Griffin, Anne Heche, Kimberly Elise, Ray Liotta, Shawn Hatosy, Daniel E. Smith

DIRECTOR: Nick Cassavetes


"'John Q' is a crude populist rabble-rouser that raises genuine, sobering questions about the way the American medical establishment, hijacked by the insurance companies, has relegated the very structure of health care to the bottom line...Washington performs with a tearful, righteous anger; he puts us in touch with how a decent, worn-down-by-the-system father could be driven to pick up a gun. But there's a crucial difference between a drama that portrays that anger, even sees the courage in it, and one that simplistically salutes a character's self-destructive actions as a practical method of solving problems...The movie could have used a brain transplant. It doesn't explore injustice--it just exploits it." --Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"'John Q' is the kind of movie Mad magazine prays for. It is so earnest, so overwrought and so wildly implausible that it begs to be parodied. I agree with its message--that the richest nation in history should be able to afford national health insurance--but the message is pounded in with such fevered melodrama, it's as slanted and manipulative as your average political commercial." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"It's as crass and manipulative as a Stalin-era poster, it reduces the complexities to bromides and slogans and it gets so preachy-keen and so tub-thumpingly loud it makes you feel like a chump just for sitting through it." --Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

"...the worst big movie I've seen in this young year...it pulls out more stops than that old silent serial 'The Perils of Pauline.' Unfortunately, it's a talkie...It's one thing to be mad as hell at the HMOs, but the movie practically turns hostage-taking into an act of parental duty...Nick Cassavetes once directed 'Unhook the Stars,' a quietly humane domestic drama starring his mother, Gena Rowlands. Did he, along with his cast, undergo a radical talent-ectomy?" --Peter Rainer, New York

"... 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 clichE`s or Aaron Zigman's assaultive soundtrack... a remarkable document, so ham-fisted that it sabotages its own worthwhile arguments...'John Q' has the feel of a picture developed to work every heartstring. It never seems to have occurred to its makers that the movie would be far more interesting if the family's life weren't such a stockpile of secondhand bits..." --Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times