Director: Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, James Woods
Review Authors: Tony
Oh boy, this is a very special Beer Goggles this month as it’s the first entry that was completely unplanned. Usually, we go digging for a pretty obscure or terrible looking film and set a date to poison our livers (we at least put some planning into our unhealthy past time). In the case of John Q, this gem of a movie was viewed on the basis that it might actually be half decent.
To give a bit of background, Ireland was in the midst of a snowstorm last week which is a very rare event. The last one was in 2010 and the previous one was in the 80’s. Leinster was hit the worst so we saw most businesses shutting down and nearly everyone was off work. Thankfully I had taken the forecast seriously and heavily restocked the drinks cabinet. On one of the nights, I had a mate come down to watch a movie with the pretense we’d watch something we both hadn’t seen which would be preferably good. We landed on John Q, a film we both had heard of but knew little about. But sure fuck it, Denzel was the leading man so how bad could it be………..
No amount of cans, gin, and wine could prepare us for what we were about to witness. While we both had heard of the film, we had mistakenly believed this was due to critical acclaim but the reality couldn’t have been further from the truth. John Q is a special kind of bad movie because it has a message behind it. Most of us outside of America have a basic understanding that the American health system is a minefield and incredibly unfair for the working class and John Q somehow has less of an understanding than that simple analysis.
The movie follows, John Archibold, a working-class man struggling to get by. One day, at a baseball game his son collapses and is rushed to a hospital. There John is informed that his son has a heart condition and has a short amount of time to live unless he gets a heart transplant. The procedure is very expensive and John finds out his insurance is a basic package and won’t cover it. After a couple of terrible montage scenes with some of most inappropriate choice of music, John has exhausted all scenarios to raise the money. So John grabs his strap and decides to hold up the hospital so they can perform the surgery.
If it wasn’t for the drink I’d have had a splitting headache from the film hammering you over the head with its message. For all it can muster up in its argument that American healthcare is unfair and if you can’t pay then good luck, it never actually justifies John’s actions. Sure he’s saving his son but the precedent he sets is incredibly dangerous, what’s to stop thousands of copycat cases. The justification is a bunch of painfully obvious exposition dumps given to side characters to pretend there’s an ongoing debate.
Sporting a very impressive cast including Robert Duvall, Ray Liotta, and James Woods does nothing to boost the quality of the film. Each is written as such a one-dimensional character we could nearly predict their every line. Ray is the slimeball police chief who’s out to save his image, Duvall is the aging but fair Negotiator who slowly comes around to John’s side, and Woods is the sleazy physician who views patients as numbers. They even throw in the scummy rich whiteboy who beats his girlfriend and the streetwise black comic relief. It feels like these characters came out of a stereotype generator.
Unsurprisingly, Denzel is the best part of the film as he gives it all. I really can’t stress enough how tanked I was for this movie. I had a terrible pick and mix of beer, spirits, and wine and which contributed to a truly awful hangover but what was worst was my memory of this piece of shit movie was unfazed. Its as if the filmmakers set out to make the dumbest version of Dog Day Afternoon possible.
Rating: 1 / 5 Cans of Miller