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JOHN Q ($29) is a message movie with a very potent message about the sad state of health care in the United States of America. Certainly, there are aspects of the plot that are far fetched, there are gaping holes in the logic, some of the characters are clichéd and the story is highly manipulative. However, one tends to overlook these flaws because the potency of the film's message and the strong central performances. JOHN Q stars Denzel Washington as John Quincy Archibald (aka John Q), a family man who finds himself having difficulty making ends meet, when his company reduces his hours of work. During a little league game, John Q's son collapses and after he rushes the child to the hospital, the doctors discovered that John Q's son needs a heart transplant.

Unfortunately, as a result of working fewer hours for his company, John Q's medical coverage is greatly reduced and the insurance company will not pick up the tab for the transplant surgery. After losing an appeal and unable to get any form of public assistance, John Q learns that due to the mounting medical bills, the hospital is in the process of discharging his son- in essence sending him home to die. With no other options, John Q decides to take matters into his own hands by taking everyone in the hospital's emergency room hostage. When the police negotiator arrives, John Q has only one demand- a new heart for his son. In addition to Denzel Washington, the cast of JOHN Q also includes Robert Duvall, Kimberly Elise, Daniel E. Smith, Anne Heche, James Woods and Ray Liotta.

New Line Home Entertainment has made JOHN Q available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is very solid and provides a strong upgrade over its DVD counterpart. While not a demo disc by any stretch of the imagination, the image is generally sharp, dimensional and displays good levels of texturing and fine details. I did not detect an over application of DNR or subsequent mushiness in the image. Colors are nicely balanced with the stark hospital interiors contrasting with some strongly rendered hues. Flesh tones appear accurate. Blacks are accurate, as are the stable whites. Contrast is generally very good, as is the shadow detail. Modest grain is present and the picture seems pretty film like.

JOHN Q is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. No surprise, JOHN Q is very much a dialogue driven film, so the sound design isn't particularly showy. The mix creates natural sounding environments, with a strong forward soundstage and atmospheric surrounds. Discrete sound effects are present in the mix, but opportunities for their occurrence are very limited by the nature of the material. The bass channel has a few moments when it is noticeable, but usually, it just keeps the sound grounded. Music is a very strong element in the sound mix, and thanks to the lossless encoding, is reproduced with excellent fidelity. Dialogue is very cleanly rendered and the actors' voices maintain a natural timbre. An English Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track has also been provided, as has a Spanish 2.0 channel track. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish and German.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras, which appear to have been ported from the DVD release. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Nick Cassavetes, producer Mark Burg, writer James Kearns, actress Kimberly Elise and cinematographer Roger Stoffers. . A thirty-five minute documentary entitled Fighting For Care looks at the problems faced by Americans needing transplants, when dealing with the costs of the procedures and medical insurance. Behind The Scenes Of John Q runs seventeen minutes, and while somewhat fluffy, it does offer a bit more meat that most programs of this nature. About twenty minutes of Deleted Scenes are also present. The Infinifilm Fact Track has also been ported from the DVD, and offers additional information relating to the movie. A Theatrical Trailer closes out the extras.

As message movies go, JOHN Q is pretty good offering. The Blu-ray offers a nice upgrade over standard definition.


John Q [Blu-ray] (2002)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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