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The film opens to a young woman (Gabriela Oltean) recklessly driving a BMW down a mountain highway.

After being hit by two trucks, she dies (this whole ordeal is interspersed throughout the movie).

John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington) and his wife Denise (Kimberly Elise) witness their young son
Michael (Daniel E. Smith) collapse at his baseball game. After a series of tests at the hospital, John is
informed by Dr. Raymond Turner (James Woods) and Rebecca Payne (Anne Heche), a hospital
administrator, that Michael has an enlarged heart and will need a transplant. However because the
company he works for dropped John from full-time to part-time, his health insurance has been changed
and the new policy does not cover the surgery, leaving them to raise 30% ($75,000) of the $250,000 in
order to get their son's name on the donor list. The family tries to raise the money but are only able to
come up with a third of the necessary payment. Eventually the hospital gets tired of waiting and decides
to release Michael, leading Denise to tell John to "do something." Unwilling to let his child die, John
walks into the hospital ER with a handgun, gathers hostages, and sets demands: his son's name on the
recipient list as soon as possible. The hostage negotiator, Lt. Frank Grimes (Robert Duvall), stands down
to let John cool off.

Meanwhile, John and the 11 hostages communicate and learn more about each other. They begin to
understand John's situation and support him a little as he ensures each of them receive the treatment
they came to the emergency room for. One of them, Miriam (Troy Beyer), is pregnant, and her husband
Steve (Troy Winbush) is hoping that their first kid is healthy. A young hostage, Julie (Heather Wahlquist),
has a broken arm, and she and her boyfriend Mitch (Shawn Hatosy) claim that a car crash caused it, but
due to some holes in their story John and another hostage, Lester (Eddie Griffin), are able to conclude
that the two are lying and that Mitch had actually beat Julie up.

After a while John agrees to release some hostages in return for his son's name being on the list an hour
afterward. He releases Steve, Miriam and a hostage named Rosa (Martha Chaves) with her baby.

The Chicago Chief of Police, Gus Monroe (Ray Liotta), gives a SWAT unit permission to insert a sniper into
the building via an air shaft. John is shot but ends up receiving only a minor wound, which is treated
right away. After taking the shot, the sniper's leg falls through the ceiling tiles and the outraged John
pulls him out of the air shaft and beats him up before using the bound SWAT policeman as a human
shield as he steps outside to the sight of dozens of policemen pointing weapons at him as well as a large
crowd gathered to support his cause. John demands that his son be brought to the emergency room. The
police agree to his demand in exchange for the SWAT sniper.

Once his son arrives, John reveals to the hostages his intention to commit suicide so his heart can be
used to save his son. He persuades Dr. Turner to perform the operation, and two of his hostages bear
witness to a will stating his last request. John goes to say his last good-byes to Michael and goes to the
operating room. He loads a single bullet into the gun and pulls the trigger but the safety is on. As he
holds the gun to his own head a second time and prepares to end his life, his wife is told about a woman
killed in a car crash, the one from the opening scene, who happens to have the same blood type as
Michael, and has been flown to the hospital for organ recovery. She runs to the emergency room and
stops John from shooting himself, and John allows the hostages to go free. Michael is given the life-
saving operation and, after watching the procedure with Denise, John is taken into police custody. At his
trial, all of the witnesses speak on his behalf. He is later acquitted of charges of attempted murder and
armed criminal action but is found guilty of kidnapping. It is never revealed what his sentence for the
crime will be but his lawyer is overheard saying that no judge will give him "more than three to five
(years)" and that she will try and get it dropped to two.

Reaction paper

The movie "John Q" was beautiful & great. It's all about the relationship of "father & son" or "parent &
child". This movie shows how important our loved are to us. John Q did everything & would do anything
to save his son, and he did. Because of desperation he decided to hostage a hospital which is illegal. in
the movie you know that John did'nt know anything about hostaging. And bacause he's a kind person, he
cared for all the hostages. In the end, he decided to sacrifice his own lifeI can relate to the story, because
I know my father will do anything for me. Many people do foolish things because of wrong decisions.
Because people often make rush decisions based on the situation they are at, but they soon regret that
decision and find that what they did was wrong.
Based on what I watched, John Q hostaged innocent people because of desperation. He asked the
government to help him save his son, but they didnt give him any consideration. Because if they did,
many would imitate John Q, & the percentage of crime in their country would increase .even though he
only wanted to save his son Mickey, it was still against the law.We know that money makes the world
go round, but money cant buy everything. Money can even ruin our lives if dont use for his son because
there was no more time left. But luck came through & still they found a donor. This shows how a person
would do anything for his loved ones. i was sad at the end because they found him guilty. i was really
hoping that they would be a happy family again. The story was very inspiring. I'd salute & admire the
man who would do anything to save his loved ones. I don't know if it's a real story or not but I salute the
director for directing such a great movie. I would be happy to watch the movie again.I can relate to the
story, because I know my father will do anything for me. Many people do foolish things because of wrong
decisions. Because people often make rush decisions based on the situation they are at, but they soon
regret that decision and find that what they did was wrong.
Based on what I watched, John Q hostaged innocent people because of desperation. He asked the
government to help him save his son, but they didnt give him any consideration. Because if they did,
many would imitate John Q, & the percentage of crime in their country would increase .even though he
only wanted to save his son Mickey, it was still against the law.
We know that money makes the world go round, but money cant buy everything. Money can even
ruin our lives if dont use correctly

john Q Analysis: Ethical & Moral

Updated on December 26, 2015

John Q shows all sorts of moral questions

This movie shamelessly delivers a potent tale of parental love and sacrifice smothered by a
deafening cacophony of ethical dilemma. Each major character confronts excruciating decisions and
must appeal to a code of morals in order to justify his or her actions. Rarely are these choices clear
cut and something precious must be sacrificed in each outcome. The father and protagonist, John
Archibald (played by Denzel Washington) traverses through the most vexing moral quandaries,
pitting his overwhelming duty as a parent against the "greater good" for society. This movie came out
in 2002 and continues to cause us to question what is right and what is wrong. John Archibald's
example makes us wonder what we would do in the situation and what is truly important to us. We
learn how difficult it is to judge the morality of the actions of others.

John does whatever it takes to save his son

Role as a father
As a father, John has a moral obligation to do all that he can for the welfare of his son. Duty
demands that he provide a better life for Mike than he had for himself. John, a Christian man,
understands this and does his best to secure enough hours at his plant in order to adequately
provide for his family. He drives Mike to school, visits his little league baseball games, and does his
best to support him emotionally and financially. Those needs are drastically increased when Mike's
medical condition is discovered; however, John's deontological imperative remains the same: to
love, support, and take care of his son.

In this respect, John responds ethically to his moral responsibilities. He takes no thought to
consequence and proceeds with motives driven purely by filial obligation. He values his role as a
parent and the sanctity of human life above all else. His selfless decision to donate his heart to his
son demonstrates that he even values this above a "right" to one's organs. This decision is the only
rational (and subsequently condonable) action under these circumstances. As deontology
necessitates, actions and laws must be universally applicable. All adherents must be willing to both
give and receive. John required no less from others than he was willing to give.

Utilitarianism Viewpoint
John's actions affected much more than just Mike, however. Utilitarianism requires individuals to
make choices that will provide the greatest amount of good or pleasure for the greatest number of
people. There is no feasible way for John Archibald and his family to ever pay enough taxes on his
limited income or enough in insurance premiums to close to covering the necessary costs for Mike's
procedure. It would be unjust for them to receive a treatment that they had not paid for. Furthermore,
the $250,000 allocated from the private health care facility's funds certainly could be redistributed
among hundreds or thousands of other patients. This reallocation of limited resources could allow
many other individuals to receive minor procedures for free or reduced costs. They could hire more
nurses to shorten wait times or install better medical technology. From this utilitarian viewpoint, it is
unjust and immoral for Mike's parents to demand that he be the beneficiary of such an expensive
procedure when that money could produce more collective happiness dispersed among the other
patients that pass through the hospital.

From this ethical standpoint, John acts irrationally and selfishly. His decisions show a clear inability
to see "the greater good". His choices effectively rob the other patients of the ability to have lower
costs, better treatment and shorter waits. The borrowed money from friends and neighbors could
have also provided much good in their respective lives. His cost/benefit analysis also seems to
neglect the distinct possibility that his son will never return to full health.

John Q
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Ultimately, John act ethically. Corrupt practices within the health care insurance industry eventually
led to the violations of many individual's inherent rights. These subtle changes switched the onus of
these companies from beneficence to one of maleficence. This blatant disregard of Kant Ethics and
duty naturally compels other rational and moral individuals to take more extreme measures to uphold
their personal beliefs and live in accordance to their ethical stances.

John Q; From an Ethical Standpoint

As human beings, we will all experience some type of ethical dilemma sometime
in our lives. Committing an act of evil for the sake of someone elses well-
being may be one of these dilemmas we face. The concept of an acceptable or
necessary evil is one that is highly debatable. When is evil justifiable? According
certain ethical schools, at times the ultimate goal is independent of the means
to reach it. In such ethical schools, the evil act may be justified if it is the course
taken to ultimately do something good for the benefit of others.

The movie John Q deals with the issue of necessary evil. This movie
Denzel Washington stars as John Quincy Archibald, a husband and father whose
son is diagnosed with an enlarged heart. The hospital informs them that his son
needs a heart transplant in order to survive. However, due to insufficient health
insurance, the hospital refuses to put his name on the transplant list or agree to
do the surgery. Therefore, he decides to take a hospital full of patients hostage
until the hospital puts his sons name on the recipients list. John also actually
considers sacrificing his own life in order to save is son.

Necessary evil as something that is unpleasant or undesirable but is needed to

achieve a result. This film deems Johns actions necessary to meet his ultimate
goal. Although Johns assault on the hospital and threat to kill hostages would be
considered evil, it was done with the intention of saving his sons life. John used
every other possible option, before he actually considered such an extreme
measure. Therefore his choice to assault the hospital was a last resort, and was
necessary to meet his goal. This is what the textbook may consider a
necessary evil.

The ethical school of Consequentialism determines right and wrong on the basis
of the consequences. This school is based on 3 premises: ends are independent
of the means; cost benefit analysis and right or wrong determined by
consequences. Under this branch of ethical theories, a necessary evil may or
may not be justified. Being that the term necessary implies intent is to reach a
commendable goal; the actual evil act may be taken into account separate from
the goal itself.

In addition, in order to look at this dilemma from a consequential point of view,

one would need to take the cost benefit analysis into consideration. A cost
benefit analysis is done to assess the issue and determine how well, or how
poorly, a planned action will turn out. A person must find, quantify, and add all
the positive and negative factors, and base the decision on the difference
between the two. In Johns case, the positive factor would be saving his sons
life. The negative factors would be jail time or being killed in the process. Most
parents that I know would agree that any of the above would be worth saving
their childs life. In the movie, John was willing to give his life and his freedom in
exchange for his sons. Therefore, in his case, the positive outweighs the

Natural Rights is another theory under the school of consequentialism that

would support Johns decision in the movie. Naturals rights is the belief that all
human beings are endowed by their Creator (God or nature) with certain rights.
This is based on the philosophy of John Locke, who said that we are all born with
the inalienable rights of life, liberty and property. In John Qs case, the hospital
had the means to save his sons life, but chose to deny him that right because
of a monetary issue. In addition, being that this theory is teleological ethical
approach, it determines right and wrong on the basis of a goal. John Qs goal
was honest and admirable, which justified his evil act.

Although some ethical consequentialist theories may support John Qs actions,

Rule Utilitarianism does not. The utilitarian ethical approach determines the
action by what can produce the greatest utility. However rule utilitarianism
maintains that we should look at the consequences of an action in relation to
particular rules of conduct. In order to apply this theory to a dilemma, you must
consider how an action can affect the overall rules of society. In this case,
condoning Johns extremist actions would completely change the rules of
society. If this were to become okay, people would continue to wield guns and
threaten hospitals every time they are denied health care. It is true that
everyone has a right to preserve life, if everyone such extreme actions against
hospitals and or other medical agencies would create total chaos.

In this movie, John Qs actions are the necessary evil needed to not only save
his sons life, but also expose the injustice of this country health system.
Although Johns actions may be considered evil, some would actually consider it
evil for him to have done nothing, and allow his son to die. So, in retrospect, he
committed the lesser of two evils. At the end of the day, sometimes we have to
do unfavorable things in order to achieve a favorable.

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