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Overall Rating

Awesome: 1.12%
Worth A Look: 16.85%
Average: 21.35%
Pretty Bad44.94%
Total Crap: 15.73%

9 reviews, 35 user ratings

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Don't Say a Word
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by Scott Weinberg

"Trust me, I won't."
2 stars

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Gary Fleder’s Don’t Say a Word is one of the most complimentary films to hit the screens in years.

Borrowing entire portions of its meandering running time from a half dozen older (and immeasurably better) movies, Don’t Say a Word seems more than content to simply parade out a handful of hoary old plot threads before lurching to its unsatisfying conclusion. While it’s certainly OK for a movie to be somewhat unoriginal, this is a film that leaps right over unoriginal and lands somewhere near amateurish plagiarism.

Borrowing most notably from Ron Howard’s Ransom, John Badham’s Nick of Time and James Mangold’s Girl Interrupted, Don’t Say a Word offers next to nothing in new ideas and would be completely unwatchable were it not for a few strong lead performances. The screenplay is a non-stop collection of 75-year old plot devices and transparent red herrings and the only thing likely to keep you awake is the intensely reptilian presence of Michael Douglas. (Is it me, or is Douglas the only actor in Hollywood getting younger?)

Douglas plays Dr. Nathan Conrad, and child psychologist notable for his chemistry with young people and also for (yet again) having a beautiful wife half his age. (Would any drama be lost if Douglas was actually to have a wife his own age?) The 3rd grade plot machinations begin when Conrad awakens to find that his 8-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. In the interests of keeping the ridiculous plot threads from straying too far, Conrad’s wife Aggie (Famke Janssen in an entirely thankless role) is curiously bed-ridden with a big ol’ broken leg. This is fortunate for the kidnappers, as they can simply spy on her all day and tell her what to do.

It turns out that the kidnapper’s are after some secret info: A six-figure digit is locked in the head of Conrad’s newest schizophrenic, and he has until 5 PM to extract it...or else. Since having Conrad simply ASK for the number would lead to a 45-minute running time, the screenplay has Elisabeth (Brittany Murphy, offering a performance that wavers steadily between fantastic and outright camp) fading in and out of consciousness, lucidity and basically the plot in general. By the time Conrad and Elisabeth are face-to-face with the diabolical Koster (Sean Bean, who seems insistent on playing the exact same role for his entire career), not only is the plot too unwieldy to enjoy, but you simply won’t even care any more.

Director Gary Fleder flaunts some of the fluid visuals and dank corners from his earlier film, Things to Do in Denver when You’re Dead. Unfortunately, he also displays some truly awful skills when it comes to simply moving the action along (much like in his Kiss the Girls). Being unoriginal to the nth degree is one thing. Making it boring is unforgivable.

Michael Douglas (A Perfect Murder) adds another notch to his “dry and drab rich guy” repertoire, while Brittany Murphy (Clueless) gives it her all in a nearly impossible role. Famke Janssen (X-Men) does a fine job with a pointless character, and Jennifer Esposito (Dracula 2000) is pretty awful as the ONE police detective who gives a hoot about the kidnapping.

Don’t Say a Word might keep your interest on a boring Sunday afternoon should it pop up on cable, but those looking for something exciting and new...this is the exact opposite.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 10/13/01 05:19:55
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
6/29/13 Janie Ridiculous. A big "S" for SuperShrink on his chest or what ? 2 stars
12/06/08 Shaun Wallner This movie stinks!! 2 stars
3/29/08 Pamela White suspenseful drama 4 stars
12/15/06 Ronin Not really a great movie but above average. 4 stars
12/03/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 4 stars
10/01/05 merp somewhat boring, just uninteresting plot, Bean solid as Bean is 2 stars
8/24/05 ES I couldn't by into the premise, just a real let down 2 stars
3/17/05 tatum Entertaining enough suspenser 4 stars
6/30/04 R.W. Welch Overplotted potboiler finally loses all credibility but holds you most of the way. 3 stars
5/21/04 Dean Rapp Well made, but the diamond look too small for all the effort 3 stars
5/03/04 john bale Rather silly thriller hardly lifted by aged Douglas, though Brittany Murphy tries hard 3 stars
8/20/02 I Can't Swim I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. Brittany great, once again 4 stars
8/04/02 KMG TRITE AND TYPICAL 3 stars
4/18/02 Monday Morning Did Michael Douglas get a face job or what? 2 stars
3/05/02 Jenny Tullwartz Watchable action fare, tamer than the previews made it look. 4 stars
3/03/02 Dave Draper A stylish but inconsistant downer, looks like it was edited with a meat cleaver! 2 stars
2/25/02 The Bomb 69 "I'll never tell..." you this was a good film. 3 stars
2/01/02 daria this film moved me, i thought it was amazing 5 stars
12/21/01 Tinka plot was bad, acting worse. I rooted for the baddie at the end. 2 stars
12/01/01 Phoenix Although very implausible, Don't Say A Word is a very entertaining film. 4 stars
11/11/01 TG I liked it; it was well acted which more than compensated for the predictable story line 4 stars
10/30/01 carla sanchez it was lame, i wasted precious sleeping time watching this movie 1 stars
10/29/01 Johnny Bravo This was completely different than what i thought it was going to be 3 stars
10/25/01 Nisha It was ok, but it could've been extremely better. 3 stars
10/18/01 Catherine Schneider I liked the twists and turns. Many thrillers don't thrill, but this kept the suspense. 4 stars
10/16/01 thanatos it would take one hug and two kisses from Famke to get me to watch this again. 2 stars
10/14/01 maggie i don't know why people are so down on this movie, i liked it a lot! 4 stars
10/14/01 Sam Moss BaD.... 2 stars
10/06/01 FriscoJohn Decent, not Awesome 4 stars
10/06/01 Amy Murphy shines, Douglas sinks 4 stars
10/05/01 poetchuck Better than I thought, 4 stars
10/04/01 wintermute Dude, they aren't child psychologists, of course they didn't kidnap her - otherwise why MD? 1 stars
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  28-Sep-2001 (R)



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