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Don't Say a Word

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Don't Say a Word

Starring: Michael Douglas, Famke Janssen
Director: Gary Felder
Rated: R
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: September 2001
Genres: Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Skye McCole Bartusiak, Sean Bean, Jennifer Esposito, Brittany Murphy, Oliver Platt, Guy Torry, Conrad Goode

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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 the rush?

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

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