Don't Say A Word


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

When bad guys behave like idiots and yet have the technical capability to keep tabs on everyone at the same time, it is taking cinematic licence too far down the road to Hokumville. Thrillers need discipline, otherwise they cheat, and if you take these things seriously - as you should, because they are a genuine art form - credibility is the key to the kingdom.

Michael Douglas is an acquired taste. For those who prescribe to the charm of the man who would be Gordon Gecco, there are few pleasures to match the ease in which he dons a role. This time he is Nathan Conrad, a New York shrink, who has "a touch with the teens." He is married to Aggie (Famke Janssen), incapacitated with a broken leg, like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window. They have an eight-year-old daughter, Jessie (intelligent performance from Skye McCole Bartusiak), who is definitely daddy's girl.

On one level the plot is simple, on another it's wildly complicated. Jessie is kidnapped by these idiot bad guys, who are masters at surveillance - no, this is not Enemy Of The State, Part 2 - and pressure is put on Nathan to provide a six-digit number, which a teenage girl, called Elisabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy), presently incarcerated in the neighbourhood nuthouse, after trying to kill her boyfriend, remembers in the recesses of her confused subconscious.

If Nathan doesn't come up with the goods, Jessie's toast and Aggie's next. If he does, he might save his family and give Elisabeth her life back.

What are these numbers? Is Elisabeth looney toons? Will Nathan discover where her father died and why? Is it too late to inject Sean Bean, as the baddie-in-chief, with a serum that creates life from inanimate objects?

The film has a visual energy that carries it through those bits where you pinch yourself and think, "Hitchcock would never have done that." Douglas, Murphy and McCole Bartusiak are so watchable, with Oliver Platt providing a cheesy cameo, that the crooks' ability to know everything that's going on at the click of a mouse doesn't wreck it completely.

Reviewed on: 22 Feb 2002
Share this with others on...
Don't Say A Word packshot
Michael Douglas is a New York shrink, whose daughter is kidnapped by Sean Bean.
Amazon link

Director: Gary Fleder

Writer: Anthony Peckham, Patrick Smith Kelly, based on the novel by Andrew Klaven

Starring: Michael Douglas, Sean Bean, Brittany Murphy, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Famke Janssen, Jennifer Esposito, Oliver Platt

Year: 2001

Runtime: 113 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Search database:

If you like this, try: