Don't Say a Word
Dir: Gary Fleder
Star: Michael Douglas, Sean Bean, Brittany Murphy, Famke Janssen, Oliver Platt
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2001
Format: Video

Psychiatrist Dr. Nathan R. Conrad is a genius when treating teenagers. He is bought in to consult on the difficult case of Elisabeth Burrows who has failed to respond to any form of treatment. Things become critical when Conrad’s daughter is kidnapped and he is given just one day to unlock Elizabeth’s mind or his daughter will die. Who has got his daughter and just what is the secret that Elizabeth is keeping that may save her?

Thrillers can be innovative like Memento, or well done like Ransom. However the best that can be said of Don't say a Word is that it is run of the mill. This is a thriller by numbers. Ok so it does have some potentially good ideas but due to a lack luster implementation any invention is lost. This is film so totally predictable and so full of clichés that very little of the story will come as a shock to anyone.

Where the film had potential was with the psychoanalysis of Elizabeth, it was an original idea and one that could have been a real winner. Unfortunately it is handled in such a superficial and poor way as to make it almost unimportant. The first session of analysis is very promising, with a strong performance from Brittany Murphy making Elizabeth intelligent yet very disturbed. However all too soon Dr Conrad has made gigantic breakthroughs into curing her using little more than common sense, and so the film's strongest card is wasted by making it too simple and easy. What is left is predicable in the extreme.

There are certain stereotypes that fill the modern thriller genre and this film trundles out quite a few of them. For a start Dr Conrad has one of those annoyingly perfect families, the sort you just know is going to come to grief before anything happens. There is of course the point mid way through the film where the hero stops being submissive and turns on the attackers. Leading to the oh so predictable finale where the hero faces to bad guys only to receive some unexpected help from the cop who has followed them without backup. This is really is a case of thriller by numbers.

Of course this doesn't make the film bad, mealy average which is a shame given the impressive cast. Michael Douglas can do this sort of role standing on his head, and once again he is effective even if is definitely getting too old for the role. Brittany Murphy is initially brilliant but her character is regrettably sidelined the further into the film you go. Sean Bean plays the obligatory English bad guy with a sense of menace and style, but it is a rather obvious role. Lastly Famke Jansen is largely wasted as the Dr's wife being mostly immobile due to script giving her a broken leg. All of these people are talented but the film does not take full advantage of this.

Don't say a Word is a pleasant enough thriller. It is slickly shot and well acted, yet it suffers from a script that shows a total lack of invention. It doesn't have the pace and plot twists to compare to the superior film Ransom or originality of Memento and this really makes the film kind of pointless. Literally nothing will surprise you here, and nearly everyone just seems to be going through the paces. The idea of unlocking the mental patients mind within the time limit was a very good one, it's a real shame that this is lost in a script is such a lame donkey. This leaves us with a thriller that's distinctly unthrilling and rather average in every way.


I'll never tell.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home