Actor-director Nick Cassavetes (‘The Notebook’) directed the medical thriller ‘John Q’ in 2002, which made its exemplary hostage into a hero. Michael’s interest in bodybuilding is entirely normal for the middle-class American family that consists of John, Denise, and Michael.
Michael’s deadly illness, and the possibility that physicians will need to replace his heart, casts a pall over the family. However, John’s medical coverage does not include elective procedures like heart replacement surgery.
Desperate, John enters the Hope Memorial Hospital’s emergency room and takes several people hostage. As the plot unravels, underlying public angst about the healthcare system comes to the surface.
This film has a stellar cast, including Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Robert Duvall, and a moving plot. Still, one could wonder whether the movie’s plot was lifted straight from the headlines. Let’s start looking into it if that’s the case.
Is John Q Based On A True Story?
The events depicted in “John Q” are not based on any real events. The story’s happy ending may be unbelievable, but the basic premise of a desperate father resorting to extreme measures to save his son may have some basis in reality.
The movie was directed by Nick Cassavetes and written by James Kearns. Kearns used themes of religion and miracles in the script because he wanted to show how they can change the world.
John, the protagonist, was originally going to commit suicide to spare his son from harm in earlier draughts of the story. The creative minds behind the film, however, stuck to the underlying theme of “Be Positive” (John and Michael’s blood groups are both B+) and chose a happy conclusion.
In the concluding frames, there is a touching display of devotion (to Sasha). It turns out that Sasha is Cassavetes’s daughter after some investigation. Sasha’s cardiac defect was discovered shortly after she was born. Within her first thirteen years of life, Sasha underwent four heart surgery.
When the film’s director was making it, Sasha was waiting on the national transplant list. This allowed Nick to empathise with John Q’s plight in light of the country’s broken healthcare system.
Sasha Cassavetes, thankfully, met the same end that Michael did in the movie. She gives a terrific performance in the upcoming 2021 short film “West of Eden.”
On the other hand, not all hostage-takers’ tales ended as happily as John’s did. The filmmakers aimed for realism in their depiction of the tense moments following a hostage crisis.
He even enlisted real-life SWAT squad members as on-screen consultants. The consultants said the movie was based on a true scenario that happened in Toronto and was quite similar to the plot. A man named Henry Masuka held hostages in the St. Michael’s Hospital Emergency Room on December 31, 1999.
Masuka, like John Q, insisted that the doctors attend to his newborn kid immediately. Masuka, like John, was brandishing an empty (pellet) gun. The police, however, were unable to properly evaluate the issue in all its complexity.
Because of this, the Toronto Police Emergency Task Force killed Masuka because they believed he was a danger to the ER staff and patients. However, when all factors are taken into account, it becomes clear that the director spared no expense in his pursuit of realism.