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John Q. Archibald (Denzel Washington) is struggling through a recession trying to provide for his son Mikey (Daniel E. Smith) and his waitress wife (Kimberly Elise). Mikey collapses at a Little League game and is rushed to a hospital. The situation is bleak. Only a heart transplant will save Mikey's life. John's HMO refuses to cover the expensive surgery. With the hospital and his insurance provider unwilling to help and his wife pleading with John to act, he takes matters into his own hands, holding the hospital's renowned heart surgeon (James Woods) and several others hostage in an emergency care wing until the surgery will be performed.
Nick Cassavetes directed this attack on the American health care system. Like his previous feature, SHE'S SO LOVELY, Cassavetes proves adept at mining the political ramifications out of human drama. The film criticizes hospitals and health care providers for working in collusion against the working class. This moving drama is propelled by the intense lead performance by Washington as one man against an unjust system.