Reviewed by: Jason Eaken
|Featuring:||Michael Douglas, Famke Janssen, Sean Bean, Jennifer Esposito, Oliver Platt|
|Director:||Gary Fleder—“Runaway Jury” (2003)|
|Producer:||Arnon Milchan, Arnold Kopelson, Anne Kopelson|
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
“Don’t Say a Word” is the type of movie where we know what will happen, but we don’t exactly know how, so we watch. Chances are, good will triumph over evil. That is rule number one of melodrama, which is what the movie is. But when did it become wrong to suspend reality while watching a movie? As I recall, one of the basic reasons for film is to entertain, and this film does, mostly. It is nowhere up to par with the recent “The Deep End” as a thriller or anything else, but that’s okay. God created all men, not films, equally.
Michael Douglas plays Nathan Conrad, a respected psychiatrist who lives in New York City with his wife (Famke Jansen) and daughter Jessie (Sky McCole Bartusiak A.K.A. the little girl from “The Patriot”). The movie opens with a botched heist, as the film establishes its villain played here by Sean Bean.
We flash forward ten years to the day before Thanksgiving. Conrad is on his way home when he is called by his ex-partner (played by Oliver Platt) to examine an emotionally distraught 18 year-old named Elisabeth (Brittany Murphy).
In case anyone didn’t see the trailer before seeing the film, the director makes it very clear that she will become involved in the plot about five minutes after her first scene. Conrad goes home, sees his wife, his little girl, the usual. But of course, when he wakes up the next day his daughter has been kidnapped. The villains soon call the Conrad residence to explain to him their demands. They need him to“retrieve” a six digit number from the mind of Elis Abeth, which will tell the thieves where the stolen valuable stone (from the 10-year-ago heist) is located.
Up to this point, “Don’t Say a Word” is rather dull, with the exception of the Brittany Murphy character, who is creepy in a really fun way. Now Michael Douglas is swept into a—you guessed it—race against time to figure out the code and get his daughter back. Douglas has a nice way of delivering under pressure and extreme circumstances, and the movie mixes in a few subplots, one we don’t care about, involving a detective on the case of a missing person which we all know will eventually entangle her in Douglas’s situation, and another subplot, involving Mrs. Conrad, who has a broken leg, trying to escape from an attacker (played amusingly at times by Guy Torry in a likeable few scenes). The film suspense builds nicely, though it borders on, and occasionally topples over the edge of, cliche.
There is some profanity in the movie. I saw reports of 16 “F” words. That sounds about right. Personally, I wasn’t too offended by this, though some Christians will be. There is no sex or nudity in the movie, but there is a bit of semi-disturbing material dealing with Elisabeth.
The film asks a thought provoking and common question: how far would you go to get someone you love back? I know that Christ would go to the ends of the Earth in order to bring even one child of His back to Him, but that really doesn’t seem to have any merit with a movie like this.
This movie isn’t intended to enlighten anyone, or if it was, I totally missed it. It is simply meant to be an interesting and somewhat engaging two hours in a movie theater, which is precisely what it is.