John Q: Ava V. Gerlitz
EW Staff
February 08, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

John Q

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
100 minutes
Wide Release Date
02/15/02
performer
Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, Kimberly Elise, Eddie Griffin, Anne Heche, Ray Liotta
director
Nick Cassavetes
distributor
New Line Cinema
author
James Kearns
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Drama

We gave it a C

It’s a good thing that ”John Q.”’s original November 2001 release date was reconsidered last summer: Post?Sept. 11 audiences might not have sympathized with a guy taking an ER hostage. But given the extra months’distance, the film could play as intended — as a nerve-racking drama about an ordinary dad (Denzel Washington) who snaps when health-insurance red tape keeps his young son (newcomer Daniel E. Smith) from getting the heart transplant he needs to survive. ”When I read the script, I thought this was going to be an exposé on what’s wrong with the American medical system,” says Cassavetes. ”It wasn’t about that at all. It’s a simple story about a family that’s in trouble.”

And the director could relate: His own teenage daughter was born with congenital heart disease and has been in and out of hospitals throughout her life. ”It’s going to sound stupid, but I did my first film for my mom [Gena Rowlands], my second film I did for my dad [John Cassavetes], and the notion came across as I read the script, ‘Oh wow, I’ll do this one for Sasha.’It seemed right.” Agrees actress Elise, cast as Mrs. Q., ”Nick’s a great director for this — because I’m basically playing him.”

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