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John Q Movie Review

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Denzel Washington is one of the most consistent actors in Hollywood. He may not have any huge blockbusters under his belt, but look at his list of movies and there are very few duds. But now he has one.

John Q, a drama about a father who takes an emergency room hostage after the insurance companies refuse to pay for his son's heart transplant, is the compilation of every hostage movie ever made, only stripped of any believability or interesting elements. The acting is bad, the script is worse, and the movie overall is just plain bad. Easily, this is the worst movie of 2001 so far.

Throughout the course of filming, Denzel had to know what he had gotten into. He had to give up at some point. There is no clear point where he lost interest in the film, but Washington is nowhere as sharp, nowhere as dramatic, and definitely not as fun to watch as the guy who takes an emergency room hostage, yet is portrayed as the hero. The movie surprisingly has a good cast, but Ray Liotta plays the epitome of stereotypical bad cops, Robert Duvall turns in his worst performance ever (even worse than The 6th Day) as the cop who respect's the bad guy's work, and there are several familiar faces in the ER itself, all of which have only been found in comedies before this point.

That's the problem. John Q is laughably bad, and sometimes, it feels as though it is trying to be. The small amount of people that are stuck with Denzel as he holds them hostage are forced to crap out comical scene after comical scene, even though this film should be strictly serious. The dialogue that takes place in the ER is so bad you'd think you were watching a television sitcom.

Worst of all, John Q tries a little too hard to get the message across that insurance is messed up. The characters literally have discussions about the problems with health care in the United States, and their dialogue is so scripted it's hard to listen to.

The first part of the film is okay, but as soon as the story enters the hospital, things go off a cliff. Just like in Dog Day Afternoon, the crowd assembled outside starts cheering him on. Somehow, a sniper fails to kill Washington from less than twenty feet away (can't these guys hit people from two miles away?). The ending is more preposterous than anything else, but by that time I didn't care.

John Q looks and sounds like something written for television. Somehow, it managed to collect an all-star cast, but instead of raising the quality of the film, they lower themselves to the miserable level of the film itself.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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