Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 33
  2. Negative: 14 out of 33
  1. 38
    The kind of movie Mad magazine prays for. It is so earnest, so overwrought and so wildly implausible that it begs to be parodied.
  2. 50
    Turns out to be hopelessly mediocre -- a poorly scripted, preachy fable that forgets about unfolding a coherent, believable story in its zeal to spread propaganda.
  3. 10
    John Q. is as fake as that tear, an exploitative mess trying to pass as social activism.
  4. The movie could have used a brain transplant. It doesn't explore injustice -- it just exploits it.
  5. 40
    The movie's tone and plot twists are so ludicrously overwrought that even Washington's admirably restrained performance -- can't rescue it from its own excesses.
  6. Is it possible none of these actors read the script before they signed on? Were New Line executives perhaps too hung up on hobbits to notice how whacked out this movie is?
  7. It's as forgettable as they come.
  8. Every so often a movie transcends stupidity and soars into the empyrean of true idiocy. John Q. is such a movie.
  9. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    One can excuse the movie's missteps and melodramatic moments in the greater interest of the strong statement it makes about our health care system.
  10. This is an A-list cast toiling on a C-list screenplay.
  11. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Denzel Washington is so powerfully earnest an actor that you never want to laugh at him -- even when you ought to be in stitches.
  12. 20
    So lacking in shame that it finally seems laughable.
  13. 10
    Leaves you feeling as if you've been alternately milked and bitch-slapped. Its manipulation is so clumsy and obvious -- and, ultimately, it goes so far astray from its original guiding principles -- that it leaves you feeling dangled and dazed.
  14. An all-stops-out rabble-rouser that hurls a broadside at America's medical insurance crisis.
  15. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A shamelessly manipulative commercial on behalf of national health insurance.
  16. It's not honest, and it's certainly no solution.
  17. Like a tone-deaf singer at a benefit concert, John Q. is a bad movie appearing on behalf of a good cause.
  18. 25
    Washington can't save a picture that spends so much time worrying about a heart that it loses its head.
  19. Gripping, if manipulative and somewhat preposterous, drama.
  20. 30
    Plays less like an exposé than a piece of exploitation, its clear divide between good and evil allowing no breathing room for real drama.
  21. 38
    The movie goes awry from the opening shots.
  22. This movie, written in crayon by James Kearns, is too dumb to come up with a way of defeating the system by using its own rules.
  23. Washington's fire and righteous anger can only do so much, and the token grit amounts to a few grains of sand in the sentimental machinery.
  24. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    A well-intentioned but self-defeatingly manipulative film that amounts to an impassioned commercial for national health care.
  25. 30
    Falls below even minimal standards of dramatic decency. John Q is a trashy, opportunistic piece of pop demagoguery. [4 Mar 2002, p. 90]
  26. Not a movie but a live-action agitprop cartoon so shameless and coarse, it's almost funny.
  27. 50
    Waste in the health care system is deplorable, but waste on the movie screen isn't so great either.
  28. 20
    When emotion is called for, Cassavetes drags out every tear-jerking moment beyond the point of tolerability.
  29. 67
    It's hard to imagine how anyone could remain dry-eyed while watching the scene in which John Q. tries to cram in a lifetime of fatherhood advice in a goodbye speech to his son.
  30. Reviewed by: Ed Park
    Washington is in default dignified mode here. He capably embodies the hero's transformation from doughy dad to man of action, amid the movie's shameless button-pushing and cheap religious overlay.
  31. 40
    A coercive script by James Kearns, and some middling direction by Nick Cassavetes, can't rob the movie of an undeniable, headlong crowd-pleasing power.
  32. 50
    With its simplistic, didactic approach, the presence of a top-flight ensemble is the only thing separating John Q from your average TV movie of the week.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 102 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 55
  2. Negative: 8 out of 55
  1. Feb 24, 2013
    The underrated Denzel Washington, gives an Oscar worthy performance as John Q, a man willing to do anything to save the life of his son. ThisThe underrated Denzel Washington, gives an Oscar worthy performance as John Q, a man willing to do anything to save the life of his son. This movie shows two things. How heartless the rich and powerful can truly be and how one man can make a difference. This is a powerful movie that shows how strong the relationship between father and son can be and just how important it is for every person in the country to have health care. Full Review »
  2. Aug 26, 2013
    The directing has gone into overdrive with its message and use of music and scenery. And not in a good way, although the acting is good. TheThe directing has gone into overdrive with its message and use of music and scenery. And not in a good way, although the acting is good. The writing just feels tacked on and unoriginal. Full Review »
  3. Mar 15, 2015
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. While I liked the idea of the movie, and the message, I don't like this movie, first off Denzel Washington is the only tolerable actor I find, and the hospital takeover takes too long to get going and goes by too fast. Full Review »