John Q

Movie review by
Afsheen Nomai, Common Sense Media
John Q Movie Poster Image
Thought-provoking. Too intense for young teens.
  • PG-13
  • 2002
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A father resorts to criminal behavior in order to get medical attention for his dying son. Criminal behavior does have consequences.


Violence limited to short scenes or moments.


Some foul language.


Some product placement.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is an intense film that deals with themes of death and failures of the medical system. These might be a lot for some kids to handle, particularly since a young boy's life hangs in the balance for most of the film. Violence and foul language are sporadic, limited to short scenes or moments. Fighting, stabbing, gunshots, attempted murder, and attempted suicide are featured in the film.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBARDAN October 27, 2020
Adult Written bycinnagurl October 13, 2017

Speaks Volumes

I think a film like this is very important to look at when it comes to American healthcare. The fact this film is fairly realistic is sad. There are many peop... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 18, 2021

Very Disappointing

This movie is not that good. very disappointing. there is a little violence. good for mature tweens.
Teen, 13 years old Written byDawgamer05 April 10, 2020

A classic hostage movie.

This movie needs to be seen by alot more people. Its amazing acting great jokes overall a great movie almost no violence lots of swearing for a pg 13 i think ar... Continue reading

What's the story?

When John (Denzel Washington) and Denise's (Kimberly Elise) son Mike (Daniel E. Smith) is diagnosed with a fatal heart condition, the parents are put in a tight spot. As working class parents, their health care will not cover the cost of the necessary transplant operation. So they do all they can to raise the $250,000 needed to save their son's life. But when the hospital decides to discharge Mike, John decides to take matters into his own hands. So he holds an emergency room hostage, his ransom being to get his son on the donor list for a heart transplant.

Is it any good?

While predictable, JOHN Q is gripping on a number of accounts. For one, the current state of the health care system is put on trial in this film. Make no mistake, this film is social commentary. And the message it states is loud and clear. Despite its preachiness, John Q is entertaining and features an especially fine performance by Washington, whose portrayal of a father's desperation is very palpable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about John's actions. Are they justifiable? This film presents a perfect opportunity to talk about the status of the health care system in the United States. Is the current system fair? Should medical care be tied to ones ability to pay for it? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate