Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4
In DON'T SAY A WORD, Michael Douglas, as psychiatrist Dr. Nathan Conrad, has
just hours to meet the kidnappers' demands or they'll kill his
eight-year-old daughter, Jessie (Skye McCole Bartusiak). They don't want
money. They need Dr. Conrad, an expert on dealing with severely troubled
teens, to get his new patient, Elisabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy), to
reveal a six-digit number that only she knows. Is he up to the pressure?
Can he pull it off? Of course. He's Michael Douglas. And being Michael
Douglas he'll have you empathizing with his pain.
Directed by Gary Fleder, this entertaining thriller delivers the goods.
Sure, it follows a fairly standard formula, but you won't mind. There are
just enough twists to keep you guessing, and the acting is solid from Famke
Janssen, as Jessie's temporarily incapacitated mother, to Sean Bean, as the
omnipresent leader of the kidnappers. Fleder, as he did in KISS THE GIRLS,
keeps you on your toes and ready to be frightened, even if things rarely do
go "Boo!" It is anticipation that causes chills not actions.
Although it is a satisfying film, it's not a flawless one. The script by
Patrick Smith Kelly and Anthony Peckham, based on Andrew Klavan's novel, has
some easily fixed problems and troubling logical holes. Det. Sandra Cassidy
(Jennifer Esposito), for example, foolishly ventures alone into a dark and
dangerous situation without first requesting backup. The kidnappers, whose
sole goal is to get the numbers, have key information that will help Dr.
Conrad find them, yet refuse to tell him. And in the missed opportunity
category, why do the writers take the time to setup an elaborate mystery
around Elisabeth's mental condition and then immediately solve it? What's
Among the film's most satisfying twists is the story's final resolution. In
this, the writers don't disappoint.
DON'T SAY A WORD runs 1:40. It is rated R for "violence, including some
gruesome images, and language" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes