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John Q (2002)



Average Rating: 4.4/10
Reviews Counted: 131
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 101

Washington's performance rises above the material, but John Q pounds the audience over the head with its message.


Average Rating: 4.1/10
Critic Reviews: 36
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 31

Washington's performance rises above the material, but John Q pounds the audience over the head with its message.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 168,629

My Rating

Movie Info

A national health care crisis in the United States yields this tense drama from screenwriter James Kearns and director Nick Cassavetes, who experienced a real-life dilemma with his daughter's congenital heart disease that mirrors the one in this film. Denzel Washington stars as John Q. Archibald, a factory worker facing financial hardship as a result of reduced hours in his workplace. When his young son, Michael (Daniel E. Smith), is stricken during a baseball game, John and his wife, Denise



James Kearns

Jul 16, 2002


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Latest News on John Q

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February 22, 2006:
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All Critics (143) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (101) | DVD (25)

A coercive script by James Kearns, and some middling direction by Nick Cassavetes, can't rob the movie of an undeniable, headlong crowd-pleasing power as it tackles an issue that touches us all.

January 21, 2003 Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A polemic in search of a plot.

November 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Manipulative sentimentality, contrived plot and phony climax.

March 13, 2002 | Comment (1)
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A sappy, melodramatic Denzel Washington vehicle that ensnares you in the standard hostage-movie scenario and doesn't let go until the director runs the whole playbook.

March 4, 2002 | Comments (2)
Arizona Republic
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It pulls out more stops than that old silent serial The Perils of Pauline. Unfortunately, it's a talkie.

February 24, 2002 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
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Cassavetes thinks he's making Dog Day Afternoon with a cause, but all he's done is to reduce everything he touches to a shrill, didactic cartoon.

February 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Thought-provoking. Too intense for young teens.

January 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Strands good actors in mushy, movie-of-the-week material. [Blu-ray]

May 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

A hokey and often silly commentary about the medical industry, and corruption within the establishment.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

The movie comes dangerously close to saying that the solution to a personal grievance is, well, terrorism, when you get right down to it.

September 24, 2007 Full Review Source: | Comments (4)

Social messages, simplistic action, and teary melodrama are manipulatively but unsuccessfully mixed in this picture, which tries to provide a "hard" look at an honest working-class man (Washington) who loses control while trying to save his child's life

December 18, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Instead of presenting the story and allowing us to draw our own conclusions, Cassavetes blatantly tells us what we should think.

January 7, 2004 Full Review Source: Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

Washington, Woods, and Duvall are so capable, they almost save this schlock-fest from itself.

February 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

An emotional, heart-wrenching story that not only takes viewers on a journey within their own souls, but also opens up their eyes to the way the health care system works.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

It may push more buttons than envelopes but John Q is a good old fashioned potboiler that generates ripped from the headlines heat.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

"Socially conscious" Denzel Washington thriller wants to tackle tough questions -- but settles for easy answers.

November 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Netflix

'John Q" is a manipulative thriller, but unlike most such films, it has a worthwhile social policy point to make and some top-notch acting talent to help put the point across.

October 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

It quite literally offended me as a movie-goer.

October 19, 2002 Full Review Source:

Beats us over the head and then expects us not to notice its cheap tricks.

October 17, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Snobs | Comments (2)
Film Snobs

It can be described as manipulative, derivative and heavy-handed. In spite of all that, it kinda works in a populist-fantasy sort of way.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

While it scarcely touches on the inadequate American health care system, it's at least got something to say, rather than just gush.

October 2, 2002

John Q's agitprop requires audiences who think art is worthy if it affirms their moral beliefs.

August 27, 2002 Full Review

At times, John Q. plays like Dog Day Afternoon crossed with a human resources seminar.

August 22, 2002 Full Review Source: Lawrence Journal-World
Lawrence Journal-World

Denzel is great, the movie is not.

July 9, 2002 Full Review

Audience Reviews for John Q

John Q is a good drama film that could have been much better. With Denzel Washington in the lead, it single handily saves this film from a being a bad film. The script has its flaws, but for the most part it succeeds at delivering a good two hour film. Washington as usual delivers on-screen, and he alone makes this film watchable. I enjoyed the film, thought it was an exciting drama film with a good cast starring opposite Denzel Washington. This may not be the best dramatic thriller, but for what it is, it manages to be a thrill ride from beginning to end. There are things that could have been done better, but for the most part, Denzel Washington's good acting elevates the film from being a mediocre affair to a good film. This is a good film to watch for a mindless two hours. The film has its imperfections, but for most of the time, the formula delivers excitement, drama and thrills. At times the script suffers, but like I said, Washington's performance makes up for it. John Q is entertaining and is a must see film for Denzel Washington fans. This is an underrated film and it doesn't deserve all the flack it has received. Sure it has it flaws, but it is entertaining from start to finish, and it has another solid performance from Denzel Washington, an actor who can turn a somewhat lacking film into something watchable. This is a good film for what it is, and deserves a bit more praise than it has received.
May 24, 2012
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

John Q. Archibald: My son is dying, and I'm broke. If I don't qualify for Medicare, WHO THE HELL DOES? 

"Give a father no choice and you leave him no option"

How far would a father go for his son? Yeah. That's never been done before. And guess what. It's been done way better. John Q is an unoriginal, cliche, overly dramatic movie that even manages to rip off Dog Day Afternoon. Denzel Washington is always good, so I'm not going to complain about him, as he was okay. Everyone else for the most part sucked. Duvall and Liota weren't what I would call bad, but they were playing characters they could play in their sleep. Heche and Woods were bad, but I think a lot of the was their material. Kimberly Elise was horrible as the mother of the dying kid. Okay, now for what I really don't like about this movie.

The story is dramatic enough. We have a kid who needs a heart transplant and a father that can't pay for it. But Cassavates goes to extreme lengths to add as many cliche gimmicks as he can to the film. Such as a heart monitor counting down and a series of close calls for the father. He has no confidence in the material and feels the need to insert as much garbage as possible. The movie is very predictable. If you know the premise; after the first scene of the movie you will know what is going to happen. 

John Q really is a bad movie. It should and could have been a tearjerker. But I was never emotionally involved. I honestly didn't care because I knew what was going to happen and I was really getting sick of watching the horrible dialogue and characters. I believe the common moviegoer will love this movie. But if you've seen more then 3 or 4 of these type of movies; do yourself a favor and give this one a pass.
August 2, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Denzel can't save this awfully directed movie. Awful direction/cinematography/script. There's literally a scene where a woman goes, "Why are you so brave?" ...the hell? Denzel carries this movie. Without him, this movie would've been crap.
September 18, 2010
Albert Kim

Super Reviewer

    1. John Q. Archibald: I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a heart transplant today.
    – Submitted by Jesse K (18 months ago)
    1. Mike Archibald: Dad! Thank you.
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
    1. Mike Archibald: No goodbye, you know I don't like goodbyes. See you later!
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
    1. Denise Archibald: I would tell you what I think of you, but I am a Christian woman.
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
    1. John Q. Archibald: My son is dying and I'm broke. If I don't qualify for Medicare, who the hell does?
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
    1. Denise Archibald: They are releasing him, now you need to do something! Do you hear me! Do something!
    – Submitted by Adam O (18 months ago)
View all quotes (13)

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