Review Date: February 12, 2002
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Writer: James Kearns
Producers: Mark Burg, Oren Koules
Denzel Washington as John Q. Archibald
Kimberly Elise as Denise Archibald
Robert Duvall as Frank Grimes
A blue-collar working man with financial problems, a wife and a kid in the hospital in need of a heart transplant, takes matters into his own hands when the hospital basically tells him to take his child home to die, since he can't afford to pay for the operation. Hostage negotiators, Ray Liotta in a police uniform and Denzel Washington, pissed at the world...ensue.
An awesome trailer does not a great movie make. This film had one of the more enticing teaser trailers that I'd seen in quite some time. It gave you just enough of the story, the background, the characters and the tough predicament therein, to entice you to want to see it, but without giving too much away. "I'm not going to bury my son...my son is going to bury me!" Yikes! Unfortunately for us, even though the film itself does feature some decent tension, a great premise and yet another amazing performance from Denzel Washington, it doesn't really come through on all counts. First of all, there are many different characters in this film and most of them are just too stereotypical and underdeveloped. The hospital personnel are particularly one-dimensional, especially Anne Heche and James Woods' characters (by the way, is Woods playing a top-notch doctor in this film or a heartless playboy?), neither of whom was able to entice even the slightest bit of sympathy from me. I understand that some hospitals and doctors are cold and unable to empathize with their patients as well as they should (trust me, I've been given the cold shoulder on many an occasion myself), but in a movie like this, a better understanding of both sides of the coin, would have made the film stronger. As is, pretty much anyone in the audience is likely to back Denzel's cause 100%, which doesn't necessarily lead to any greater appreciation of the real issues involved in this heated topic. A solid example of a movie which does provide for plenty of ammunition from both sides of the story is CRIMSON TIDE, a nail-biter which also stars Denzel.
This film also features a one-dimensional police captain in Ray Liotta (although he does still rock!) and yet another sensationalistic journalist who only cares about the ratings, blah, blah, blah! Haven't we had enough of films which portray the media as blood-sucking leeches?? Enough already! We get it...the media sucks! The movie also starts to fall into a rut of sorts near the end, feeling a little like every other "hostage" drama out there, but overall, it is saved by its great premise, the important message which it does bring to the forefront (even though it plays it a little heavy-handed at times) and a man who goes by the name of Denzel Washington. I love this dude! He's a joy to watch and he always manages to completely inhabit the characters that he plays. Here, it took me about 30 seconds to fall under his "overweight working man" spell and he was that man from every frame thereon. See this movie for Denzel, see it for the slight gulp that you might feel in your throat every now and then, see it for the scene in which his wife says "Now you need to do something, you hear me...do something!" and see it for the ideals which it's attempting to convey. It's not a perfect film by any means, and the way that things are ultimately resolved is a tad tame in my opinion, but overall, the movie entertained me for its well-paced runtime and that's always a bonus. Which reminds me...who was the complete babe who opened up the film in a BMW? Hubba-hubba!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian