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HTF REVIEW: "John Q." (with screenshots)

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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 06 2002 - 11:08 AM

Posted Image

John Q.

Studio: New Line
Year: 2002
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 112 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)

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

Posted Image

John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington) is a
loving father with a loving wife (Kimberly Elise)
and a son, Michael (Daniel E. Smith). Times are
tough on the family. John is only working 20 hours
a week at the factory. Bills are piling up. Their
car has just been repossessed and John is waiting
paycheck by paycheck to cover the family expenses.

Posted ImagePosted Image

During a peewee baseball game, Mike suffers a
heart attack. After rushing him to the hospital,
John discovers his insurance will not cover the
heart transplant his son needs to live via the
hospital’s insurance liaison, Rebecca Payne
(Anne Heche). The boy's transplant will cost
the family $250,000. Until John can come up with
the money, the hospital refuses to put put Mike's
name on the donor list.

Posted ImagePosted Image

Frustrated and at his wit’s end, John does the
unthinkable....he takes the emergency room hostage
until the doctor (James Woods) agrees to perform
the transplant. Tensions mount and the police are
brought in, headed up by the veteran hostage
negotiator Frank Grimes (Robert Duvall). Soon, the
media becomes involved in the fiasco and John
quickly becomes elevated to hero status amongst
the crowd outside.

Posted Image

So what's wrong with John Q.? The one
credit I give the film is that it brings out
the absurdities of our Health care system. It's
the story of what happens when an average American
is pushed into doing the unthinkable. It makes
us think. Any one of us could be a paycheck away
from being a John Q. The problem is, this is
certainly not subject matter for an entertaining
film as it comes across as a very preachy,
unsatisfying experience.

How is the transfer?

You begin to realize what a drop-dead gorgeous
transfer this is from the film's opening moments
as a car drives into a mountain valley. Colors
are full of life and there isn't a hint of video
noise. Fortunately, the rest of the transfer
remains this good. In the outside shots of Mike's
peewee game, we are treated to the bold oranges
in the Oriole's uniform. When we go into the
hospital, the blue colors inside give a nice
warmth to the transfer. Facial tones remain
extremely accurate -- especially noticeable in
Anne Hecht's lighter skin shade. Even the color
of Anne's deep blue eyes are brought to the
foreground. You couldn't ask for a more accurate
and perfect transfer.

The 5.1 DTS mix is very aggressive. The film's
score is well balanced and evenly distributed across
the 5 channels, with the rears providing as much
robust sound as the fronts. Every single piece of
effects sound is clearly heard through the rears...
from the sounds of the school bell to the whistle of
the factory to the sounds of police helicopters
buzzing overhead. As with most DTS tracks, the
sound becomes more spacious to the ears. Even the
LFE channel kicks into gear on occasion, pulsating
and rumbling when the score makes its accents known.

Special Features

Posted ImagePosted Image

New Line has released John Q. under its
Infinifilm banner. This feature takes
you beyond the normal movie viewing experience
and enables you to branch out and watch features
that are relevant to the film.

Posted Image

From the Main Menu, the viewer has the ability
to watch this film normally, or in infinifilm
mode. In this special mode, a prompt will appear
during the feature that will enable you to hit
ENTER and watch a branching feature that pertains
to the scene you are watching. For example, in
the opening sequence, you can watch how a car
crash was staged. In another sequence, you can
watch audition footage of Daniel Smith. You can
even access press kits for all the principal actors
in the film. There's even branching that concentrates
on health care issues as you are taken into an
actual hospital hearing first-hand how a hospital
evaluates finances of organ transplant patients.
You can even learn about Medicaid coverage for organ
transplant patients. There's a wealth of information
here, and I expect that this could become a handy
tool for anyone who has a relative facing a possible

The film features a full-length commentary
with Director Nick Cassavetes, Screenwriter James
Kearns, Producer Mark Burg and Director of Photography
Rogier Stoffers.

Posted Image

Fighting for care documentary starts with
the startling fact that there are currently 80,000
people waiting for an organ transplant. Donor
shortage has reached critical porportions in this
country and there is a constant struggle with the
insurance companies to secure financing for the
patients that need the transplant. The American
system does not provide universal access to any
kind of care. In this documentary, we meet the
administrators, the doctors and the patients who
take us through the process of organ donations and
transplants and the costs and red tape involved.
It is suggested by a leading Physician that most
Americans are unware of the gaps in their insurance
coverage and would be very surprised if they read
it thoroughly. This documentary becomes a very
uneasy sitting as it covers all the angles of what
it takes to be able to qualify for a transplant.
(length: 34:26)

Posted Image

The Behind The Scenes of John Q reveals why
Director Nick Cassavetes was so immediately struck
with the screenplay of this film. His daughter
has heart disease. His own personal experiences
with his daughter led him to drive this film into
an almost personal crusade. Cast members Duvall
and Liotta compliment the directror on bringing a
very relaxed and fun feel to the set. Denzel
Washington absolutely loves his young co-star,
admiring the strong "light" inside the boy. The
two are seen on the street between takes having
a fun time together. From behind the camera, we
watch the filming of the peewee game tragedy. In
separate interviews with Anne Heche and James Woods,
both actors acknowledge that the characters they
play are not going to be likeable ones, but they
represent the truths of the medical field.
Rounding out this documentary, we learn how the
effects team was able to create a heart transplant
that looked all too real in the film. James Woods
is absolutely beside himself that he performed
surgery in this film much to the snide remarks of
co-star Anne Heche.
(length: approx. 16 minutes)

There are nearly 20 minutes of deleted scenes.
These scenes include:

* The hostages talking about the pitfalls of
HMOs. Reviewers bashed this scene as they felt
it was unrealistic, and the Director felt that
it weighed down the film.

* Mitch giving a speech to John about the error
of his ways and why he is no better than anyone

* Mitch, tied to a railing, tries to appeal
to his girlfriend, Julie, but it seems she is
a lot smarter than him.

* Kneeling before a cross, John prays to God
in a lengthy but emotional scene.

* In an extension of the final transplant scene,
Mike flatlines.

All these scenes are in finalized form, presented
in widescreen. These scenes can be played with or
without the aid of Director's commentary.

The Original Theatrical Press Kit contains
notes on The Production, as well as separate
Cast and Filmmaker filmographies.

Finally, the film's original theatrical trailer
is included.

Final Thoughts

It's amazing to see the care that gets put
into New Line's infinifilm series. The
studio absolutely stops at nothing to offer the
best transfer, DTS sound, and a feast of added
supplements that can be accessed through branching.
It's a shame, however, that all of this great
material is wasted on a film like John Q., a
film that is nothing more than sappy and unrealistic
with hardly a true moment anywhere in it. In fact,
The only real truths can be found in the wealth
of educational supplements that New Line has

Worth a rental, nothing more.

Release Date: July 16, 2002


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Kenneth Cummings

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Posted July 06 2002 - 12:53 PM

Dang, I was acually looking forward to seeing it, but both you and DVD File hated it, so another DVD down the drain. But your review system is getting better, Ron, keep it up. Posted Image
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#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted July 06 2002 - 01:00 PM

Ron, another nice review. I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the film (which I saw during its theatrical release).
The Behind The Scenes of John Q reveals why Director Nick Cassavetes was so immediately struck with the screenplay of this film. His daughter has heart disease. His own personal experiences with his daughter led him to drive this film into an almost personal crusade.
I had not heard this before, but it certainly explains a lot. It's one thing for a director to be passionate about his material but in this case Cassavetes was obviously too close to the subject. It's a shame - with an actor like Washington on board this could have been a great movie if the director had been able to see the things that were wrong with the script and fix them.

No purchase for me, although the documentary sounds interesting and worth a rent on its own.

Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:


* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.

* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.

#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Andy_MT


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Posted July 06 2002 - 01:36 PM

Ron, just curious (and not a criticism), why do you write all your reviews in such a narrow column ? makes the old eyeballs ache after awhile, what with all that left,right,left,right business.

thanks for the review anyway Posted Image

#5 of 12 OFFLINE   JeffreyMercado


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Posted July 06 2002 - 02:51 PM

I have to disagree, I thought the film really hit home. The supporting cast gave a sad situation some comedy relief. Denzel gave another great moving performance. My Dad even liked it and he's not even a moviegoer. It was intense, and very believable. Nice suspense at the end, it had me worried. All and all I liked the movie, and since Ron loved the transfer I will definately buy this movie. I recommend it.

#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Kenny Goldin

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Posted July 06 2002 - 03:40 PM

I have heard from friends this thing is incredibly preachy as Ron said, and more of an advrertisement for liberal thinking, so I'll pass. I am not interested in any film that tries to throw blatant political thought at the viewer, no matter which side of the aisle it is coming from.

Seems like a good premise though, wish thyey would have toned down the politics (again, from what I have heard).Posted Image May give it a rental.
"We make it hard...the easy way."

Funniest line I have ever read in DVD a review: "'The Simple Life' stars rich, spoiled friends Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie as two rich, spoiled friends who are taken out of their posh Los Angeles lifestyle and deposited in a small town in Arkansas..."

#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Luis Cruz

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Posted July 06 2002 - 08:59 PM

I guess I'm in the minority on this one. I thought this was a good film. The cast was top notch. I thought the story was good as well. It was a realistic story which was a bit preachy so to say, but I never see that as a bad thing in a movie. All in all a good flick and definately worth the purchase in my opinion.
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#8 of 12 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 06 2002 - 10:22 PM

Nice review Ron, but I too liked the film when I viewed it during it's theatrical run. Judging from the large movie audience that was with me, they liked it too. Was it realistic? No, but I was entertained which I expect and demand above all other variables from any commercial film, I paid my money to see.




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#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Quint van der Vaart

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Posted July 06 2002 - 11:44 PM

I found John Q to be good as well.
It's a film in which Denzel Washington realy does act very well in and the topic is also very interesting.

So I will be buying this one Posted Image
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#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Martice



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Posted July 07 2002 - 01:00 AM

I liked this film and even got a little choked up during some parts. A little message filled? Yes. However, there was still good acting and suspense across he board on this one. Ron you mean to tell me you didn't get a little choked up on any of the scenes? There was one in particular that had the whole movie house choked up, including myself.

Consider this one bought!!
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#11 of 12 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted July 07 2002 - 04:28 PM

Not to get political, but you notice that people throw the term "liberal" around these days with the same flamboyance that "Archie bunker" used to use ? I think I'm more of a middle of the road type of guy but it seems like anyone that questions a "System" these days, be it medical or Political is branded a liberal, with all it's supposed Negative connotations.

Off my Soapbox.
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#12 of 12 OFFLINE   BobH


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Posted July 26 2002 - 07:47 AM

Now what am I going to do?! I always go the opposite direction from your reviews and here you pan a movie I was sure was a sappy overblown mess. So I buy it? Nah, we just must agree once.

By the way, despite 80,000 people waiting for transplants, the real statistics show that transplants are by and large unsuccessful. Short lived and poor quality of life. Even sadder reality that I am sure the movie skips.