Don't Say A Word Movie Review

Surrounded by hype, high hopes, and the promise of an over-the-top performance by Clueless's Brittany Murphy, Don't Say a Word looked full of promise. Hell, when I hear that "I'll never tell" whisper on the TV commercial, goose bumps run up my spine.

Alas, Word is filled with little but disappointment, a kooky mix of Girl, Interrupted and Ransom, with Michael Douglas and company collecting a paycheck to plod through a vapid and dull kidnapping thriller.

Douglas stars as Nathan Conrad, renowned New York psychologist, devoted father of Jessie Conrad (Skye McCole Bartusiak), and loving husband to Aggie Conrad (Famke Janssen). After a gang of jewel thieves, headed by Sean Bean's Koster, kidnaps his daughter, Nathan is forced to extract from his new patient, the catatonic and violent Elisabeth Burrows (Murphy), the location of some hidden bank job booty that her father hid from the Koster gang a decade ago. But with hard-nosed Detective Sandra Cassidy (Jennifer Esposito, doing her best J. Lo impression) tracking down Koster and his gang of hoodlums, the stakes are raised as Nathan races against the clock to crack the mystery of Elisabeth's head in order to get the goods inside. The catch - Nathan only has until five o'clock to solve the puzzle! Whoa, the suspense is almost too much.

Don't Say a Word loses the audience inside of 15 minutes. Murphy looks and acts like Linda Blair from The Exorcist during the first part of the movie, then turns around and reprises like her role from Girl, Interrupted. And the only real "crazy" to be found in the film is director Gary Fleder's (Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead) staggering use of flashback sequences. Oliver Platt, Famke Janssen, and even Sean Bean are decent actors, but the stuff they are given here -- such as a bedridden wife fighting off the token black guy with her crutch -- is insulting and demeaning. Additionally, the use of the surveillance cameras and laptops to track Nathan's every move is downright unbelievable. How do ex-cons fresh out of the Big House afford all this equipment?

Despite its flaws, Don't Say a Word is surprisingly some of the best mainstream film you'll find this month -- and audiences will lap it up. Americans love lukewarm, half-baked thrillers starring big names and accompanied by cheap thrills. Someone get me my lithium!

Someone has a secret.


Don't Say A Word Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 2001


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