Sunday, January 15, 2006

[DVD] John Q (2002)

John Q is your everyday man, the blue collar worker with lots of debts to pay. The kind in which Banks don't hesitate to send the repo man over for a default non payment. The kind whose up late at night trying to work out his sums and play it right. In short, a typical average family person with typical family problems.

However, things turn for the worse when his only child Mike requires an urgent heart transplant to save his life. Sure, not that hearts are easy to come by (trust Hollywood to make it within an hour or so), but the bottomline is, John has no money to pay for the whopping 250,000 dollars surgery.

Which brings us to something real - medical costs, wherever you are, is always spiralling upwards. While hospitals and their doctors make millions, how many are willing (or able to?) work around the administration to perform a life-saving operation, for free, or a nominal sum. Don't get me wrong, it's difficult to be "free", because everyone will take; it's human tendency. But it does raise some questions as you sit through this movie.

Ah, the insurance companies get another stab at being unscrupulous as well. Downgrading and changing John's policy without his knowledge, isn't really ethical. But it's always about business, and with businesses, it's again about the bottomline. John Q tries all avenues to raise funds, and gets caught in red tape aplenty.

So when faced with a wall behind his back, John Q finally snaps and decides to take matters into his own hands. By holding a host of characters - the surgeon (James Woods), a security guard, a pregnant woman, a rich yuppie couple, etc, while being made into the local hero by the media, and those who had enough of red tape. It's somewhat satisfying to watch on screen how favours are swung his way, and how incredibly lucky he can get, as John negotiates with Police Negotiator Frank, played by veteran Robert Duvall.

It's compelling drama, by Denzel Washington no less. Completing the cast are Ray Liotta as the police chief who screws up a rescue attempt, and Anne Heche as the uncompromising, cold hospital administrator. But towards the end it degenerates into typical Hollywood fare - entertaining, but lacking serious punch to make a statement on topics it highlighted in the first act.

Barebones Code 3 DVD with no extras.

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