DON’T SAY A WORD (2001)
Starring Michael Douglas, Sean Bean, Brittany Murphy, Guy Torry, Jennifer Esposito, Famke Janssen and Oliver Platt.
Screenplay by Anthony Peckham and Patrick Smith Kelly.
Directed by Gary Fleder.
Distributed by 20th Century Fox. 96 minutes. Rated R.
There is almost a foolproof recipe for Michael Douglas films. He starts out as a rich professional man with a perfect family who ends up having to protect his loved ones from outside evil. In the last few years, Douglas has been broadening his sights a bit, with eccentric and varied characters in Wonder Boys, Traffic (okay, his character was similar to the formula, but the film certainly wasn’t) and going back a bit, his amazing performance in Falling Down.
Don’t Say A Word is stepping back into the old stomping grounds. It is somewhere in the middle of the road for the Michael Douglas formula films, worse than Fatal Attraction but better than Disclosure and Basic Instinct. Douglas plays a psychiatrist whose adorable moppet daughter is kidnapped by a jewel thief who needs info from one of Douglas’ disturbed patients (Brittany Murphy.)
Don’t Say A Word is actually a rather clever, chilling, stylish little film, but it has some gaping narrative holes. For example, if a criminal is being chased by three murderous crooks that he has ripped off, would he drag his daughter with him by the hand when the chances are very good the bad guys will murder her too, at the very least she may see her father killed? How do three bad guys who have been in prison for ten years, have full access to set up cameras and microphones in a private apartment and the dangerous section of a psych ward? How would a cheap plywood coffin that has been buried for years still be in good enough shape to read a number carved into it?
The biggest of these inaccuracies is the fact that Murphy’s character, who has been fighting and confounding psychiatrists for over a decade… falls in line with Douglas in no time flat. In fact, despite Murphy’s strong performance, her character just makes no sense. Sometimes she seems horribly insane, other times she is completely rational. Also, if she is going from hospital to hospital to stay out of sight of killers, how does that explain the brutal attack that got her committed in this hospital in the first place?
There are way more questions than answers. You’ll enjoy Don’t Say A Word if you don’t think about it too much. If you do, then it will probably lose you. (9/01)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2001 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 24, 2001.