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DON’T SAY A WORD (R)
20th Century Fox
Official Site
Director: Gary Fleder
Producers: Anne Kopelson, Arnold Kopelson, Arnon Milchan
Written by: Anthony Peckham, Patrick Smith Kelly
Cast: Michael Douglas, Sean Bean, Jennifer Esposito, Famke Janssen, Brittany Murphy, Oliver Platt, Guy Torry, Skye McCole Bartusiak

Rating: out of 5


In DON’T SAY A WORD, psychiatrist Dr. Nathan Conrad (Douglas) must get mental patient Elisabeth Burrows (Murphy) to reveal a 6-digit number if he ever wants to see his daughter Jessie (Bartusiak) who has been kidnapped by bad guy Patrick Koster (Bean).

This could have been the basis for an intriguing suspense thriller but for the sheer lack of suspense. You never feel any true danger or fear because everything is so unbelievably easy. The good doctor is able to get a violent and catatonic mental patient who has not communicated for ten years to open up to him in the space of one afternoon using a doll. His very young and pretty wife Aggie (Janssen) is able to overcome an armed attacker even with one leg in a cast. The detective on the case (Esposito) figures out the crime so fast, it was as if she had a script to go from. And with all the high-tech gadgets that are used, it would seem that criminals have degrees from the ITT Technical Institute these days.

DON’T SAY A WORD is based on Andrew Klavan’s novel of the same name, which won the 1992 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. From what I could gather online, the novel creates a chilling sense of suspense on a couple of levels, each of which gives the title a different meaning. First, there is the challenge of making the mental patient reveal the needed information in the short time given, this after her first words are “I’ll never tell.” Second, the novel successfully evokes the feelings of being trapped and helpless, under constant surveillance by the kidnappers with the warning “don’t say a word”—or else. Based on the book reviews, my suggestion would be to skip the movie and go read the book.

—Sandhya Shardanand

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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