Written by Anthony Peckham, Patrick Smith Kelly
Directed by Gary Fleder

Running Time: 1:52

Rated R
for violence, including some gruesome images, and language.

Michael Douglas
as Dr. Nathan Conrad

Brittany Murphy
as Elisabeth Burrows

Famke Janssen
as Aggie Conrad

Sean Bean
as Patrick Koster

Jennifer Esposito
as Det. Sandra Cassidy

Oliver Platt
as Dr. Jerald Sachs

Guy Torry
as Dolen

Skye McCole Bartusiak
as Jessie Conrad

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Don't Say a Word was a passable thriller with some good performances and an interesting story, but one that in the end had a lot of holes and an ending that wasn't what I had hoped for.

Michael Douglas stars as Dr. Nathan Conrad, a renowned psychiatrist. One of his former co-workers at a local center calls him in because of a peculiar case. Elisabeth is 18 years old, has been in institutions for almost 10 years, and has been diagnosed with almost 20 different ailments. No one seems to know exactly what is wrong with her, and Dr. Conrad is known for his work with teenagers. Once he makes contact with her, his life changes forever. Elizabeth has a secret she's been hiding for 10 years, a secret worth 10 million dollars. And to ensure his help, the people that want that money kidnap Dr. Conrad's daughter, and give him 8 hours to get the secret out of Elisabeth, or his daughter dies. Racing against time Dr. Conrad must figure out what's causing Elisabeth's problems, and get her to reveal her secret, or his daughter will end up dead.

The story is interesting, if not completely original. There are a couple of twists that you may or may not see coming, depending on how cynical you are, or how many movies you've seen in your life. Michael Douglas gives another fine performance as the doctor who goes from running scared to taking control of the situation. Brittany Murphy, another star in the making does what she can with the role she's given. While her performance was very well done early in the film, the longer the film went, the less she actually had to do. The rest of the cast wasn't very special or noticable for that matter.

How is it in all these types of movies where children 8 or 9 years old are kidnapped or otherwise in danger, have the most amazing ability to outsmart their captors? Skye McCole Bartusiak as the aforementioned kidnapped daughter was able to convince her watcher to make her a sandwich, and then snuck a peek out the window, saw where she was being kept, realized she could actually contact her mother, and then proceeded to do so before then being caught. Children must be smarter these days then they were when I was in elementary school, because some of the kids I went to school with wouldn't have been able to pop a paper bag, let alone outsmart hardened criminals.

My other problem, and don't read this paragraph if you don't want to know what might be considered important plot details, is what Elisabeth did between the time her father was killed, and his being buried. I would have to guess that it all didn't take place in one day, so somehow she saw her father being killed, had someone arrange a funeral, or more likely the state did it, wait until the autopsy was done, figure out where her father was, hop on to the truck his body was on, then put the doll inside the box. Somehow all that doesn't make a lot of sense to me, and it's small things like that, that can take a film down a notch.

However, taken for what it is, which is a dark thriller released in the movie dog days of September, Don't Say a Word wasn't a bad film. Wondering what the big secret was kept me at least interested for most of the film, and even though you know how the movie will end, it was still good enough to make it worthwhile. So overall, it's not a bad film to go out and see.

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reviewed 09/30/01

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