|John Q. (SE)/ D+,A-
|New Line/2002/116/ANA 1.85
John Q. is often simplistically
amateurish. Cliché close-ups coupled with some of the most abominable
dialogue imaginable is almost embarrassing at times. Sadly, the script is
no more than weak soap opera. There's a moment when the emergency room
nurse, protective of a doctor, chimes in with a line like, "Doctor, I
won't let you ruin your career." Even in a "General Hospital"
type soap they'd exorcise a line like that. There are other moments
equally embarrassing. At times the film plays like broad comedy. The
director's cutting emphasizes these moments, and I don't really think he's
looking for the humor in the situation. It's heavy-handed, pedantic movie
making. There's a drone-like effort to take the US health care system to
task, but it's not effective. Characters like the hospital administrator
are so calculatingly cold they don't even mount a semblance of reality.
A family in crisis. ©New
There are times when John Q. feels like
it wants to break into a Dog Day
Afternoon type chant. Certainly, the staging is similar in ways,
with almost celebratory crowds gathered outside to witness the real life
drama of a man driven to extremes. Even the early montage depicting John
Q.'s struggle to find help for his daughter and to raise money is patently
artificial. The situation is so unrealistic. Counting the dollars is
simply annoying, and cloying. Many of the scenes play like infomercials.
Yes, there are scenes that play to the
heartstrings. One feels for the family and the little boy, but at the same
time everything seems so false and set-up. There are actually emergency
room speeches in which various hostages try to address concerns about our
health care system. Give me a break please, and I don't mean my arm. It's
preaching of the lowest order. Even the ending isn't satisfying. It rings
false like everything else in this movie.
It's hard not to like a Denzel Washington performance.
There are moments in John Q. when Washington has strong, magnetic
speeches, and he cries pretty well too. He's always a strong presence in
every film he makes. Washington's acting consistency is almost uncanny.
Yet, his task as John Q. Archibald is an insurmountable one. It's a
tougher task than even John Q's. John Q. only has to try to save
his boy. Denzel has to try to save this movie. No way. Even Robert
Duvall, one of my favorite actors seems to have his hands ties by a
lackluster role as a hostage negotiator. James Woods plays the heart
surgeon buried under such poorly set up situations that he seems at a loss
at various times.
John Q. is a very fine looking DVD. It's
very sharp. Perhaps there a couple of scenes that are not optimally sharp.
There's no edginess to the picture. Color is outstanding. Depth of image
is very good. Shadow detail is excellent. It's a punchy looking picture
with lots of life to it. Various lighting situations are effectively
translated to DVD. Good, engaging DTS sound track. Surround details are
effectively places. Some of the sound is absolutely annoying in the way it
attempts to emphasize emotion or crisis.
New Line has packaged John Q. as one of
its Infinifilm releases. There's two original documentaries, one focusing
on the health care system, another on the film production. Audio
commentary is provided by director Nick Cassavetes, screenwriter James
Kearns, producer Mark Burg and director of photography Roger Stoffers.
Deleted scenes are also included with commentary from the director.
Johnston’s glorious montage work accompanied by Marc Isham's stunning
Americana score are reason enough for watching this exquisite movie.
Movie Poster Archive includes extensive poster images from the films of
stars like Susan Hayward, Kirk Douglas, Katharine Hepburn and many
more. Our featured star is Gregory Peck
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