Take the Forrest Witaker scenes from The Crying Game and the counselling scenes from Awakenings. Filter out the good bits. Then with what's left send it through a Hollywood studio production line Thriller Genre Mill. That inoffensive mess you have left is Don't Say A Word.Nathan (Douglas) is a psychiatrist who takes on the case of Elisabeth. A violent, non-communicative basket case in a psych jail who has resisted all efforts of rehabilitation. Soon afterwards Nathan's daughter, Jessie (Bartusiak) is kidnapped by a group of bank robbers who want some information from Elisabeth, but she's not telling.
Not spectacularly good, not spectacularly bad. Don't Say A Word is just sort of there. Like a spot of dust on a window - and just as memorable. It just runs along and you don't seem to care all that much. It's glossy, fast moving and features a cute young female who is totally psycho, but the film is totally soulless.
As you sit back and try to work out whether it's really all that good, you start to worry about it more and more.
First there's the rather rapid change in Elisabeth - 10 years of institutionalisation is presented and its resolution is rather unconvincing. Surely Dr Conrad should have had a bigger problem in dealing with Elisabeth.
There's the deadline that Dr Conrad is set. It's rather short and it isn't really made all that clear why. If more time was given then something a little more could have been made of the film. Improved, more convincing scenes between Dr. Conrad and Elisabeth; Jessie and her captors could have used the potential that is there, but it's all disappointingly wasted.
Douglas - after a rash of some pleasantly diverting films - is back to slick thriller mode. That is, he sleeps his way through it, dreaming of the money he's managed to swindle out of the producers. Murphy is rather watchable, but when you consider other actresses who have done the trouble teen routine, then you see that it could have been better. It was a promising character rather than a promising performance from the young actress.It all comes down to the story. There's a hint of something promising there, but the frantic rush to turn it into a Hollywood thrills-spills-ills-man-it-kills movie means that all that's left are broken contrived promises.