Don't Say a Word (2001)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Sep 28, 2001 (USA)  |   Run Time - 114 min.  |   Countries - Australia , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Don't Say a Word is a run-of-the mill thriller distinguished by good performances and huge plot holes. Though it is based on the Edgar Award-winning mystery by Andrew Klavan (True Crime), fans of the book may be surprised and disappointed by the liberties the filmmakers have taken with the story. Director Gary Fleder has a feel for this type of material, as he showed in the hit film Kiss the Girls, but the script here lacks the nasty unpredictability of that film. Michael Douglas delivers solid work in this film, but his character, Dr. Nathan Conrad, is a bit of a stiff, as is the improbably glamorous but driven cop played by Jennifer Esposito. Oliver Platt, as Dr. Conrad's conflicted cohort Dr. Jerald Sachs, has a bit more to play and is his usual engaging self. Brittany Murphy (Girl, Interrupted) nearly steals the show as the seemingly psychotic girl at the center of the mystery, Elisabeth Burrows. There's a depth to her characterization that doesn't seem to come from the script. The filmmakers would certainly have been better served by spending more time exploring Elisabeth's interaction with Dr. Conrad, but the mechanics of the kidnapping plot prevent it. That plot is the film's biggest weakness. The bizarrely complicated way the cardboard villains go about obtaining the information they need is never justified to the audience, and the swiftness with which Dr. Conrad unlocks Elisabeth's mind strains credulity. There have been too many kidnapping thrillers like this, from Dirty Harry, to Ransom, to Kiss the Girls itself, and without a tightly written script, the routine seems all too familiar.