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John Q.

John Q is a botch job, even though it’s crawling with Oscar winners and nominees. Denzel Washington, fresh from his triumph in Training Day, stars as a blue-collar father holding a hospital hostage so his young son can get a heart transplant. Robert Duvall plays a hostage negotiator, and James Woods is the surgeon forced to operate at gunpoint. Happy paychecks, guys. What looked like a thriller with a social conscience — those HMO bastards! — is a subpar episode of ER. Working from a trite script by James Kearns, director Nick Cassavetes (She’s So Lovely) stoops mighty low. In one scene, Anne (Call Me Crazy) Heche, as a hard-ass hospital lackey, tells John Q. that his son must die for lack of health insurance and then lets a tear trickle down her cheek when Dad bids his son farewell on TV — those media bastards sneaked in a camera! John Q. is as fake as that tear, an exploitative mess trying to pass as social activism.

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