Don't Say A Word (15)

Review by Jack Foley

Michael Douglas seems to have based a large part of his career on playing angst-ridden males and in his latest thriller, Don't Say A Word, he reverts to type.

Instead of playing off against deranged women (Fatal Attraction/Basic Instinct), drug addicted daughters (Traffic) or society as a whole (Falling Down), the actor here pits his wits against a criminal mastermind who has kidnapped his daughter.

Douglas is a respected and highly successful psychologist who is coerced by Sean Bean's bank robber into counselling a seriously disturbed patient (Brittany Murphy) in the hope of finding a set of numbers locked in her head - numbers which will reveal the hidden location of a jewel heist which took place 10 years earlier.

The catch is, Douglas has just eight hours to perform what, for most psychiatrists, might take the better part of a lifetime.

Given that the premise requires a massive suspension of disbelief, it comes as little surprise to report that Don't Say A Word is a pretty throwaway vehicle for Douglas.

Despite its promising set up, the film quickly becomes a tiresome chase movie in which character and plot get thrown by the wayside in favour of cheap thrills and violent confrontations.

And try as he might, director Gary Fleder (of Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead fame) cannot escape the feeling that this has been done before, far better, in movies such as Mel Gibson's Ransom.

Performance-wise, Douglas is typically reliable, without ever really being stretched, while Murphy shows signs of being a promising future talent, but far too many of the remaining characters are under-used, especially Oliver Platt's wasted turn as Douglas's friend and colleague, and Jennifer Esposito's embarrassing attempt at a detective.

Bean's villain, even, starts out as a mastermind capable of the most ingenious and calculated of crimes, but ends up coming across as a violent and, worse, dim-witted, thug.

Viewers seeking an undemanding Friday night at the movies may draw something from this formulaic nonsense, but those in search of something more are likely to be very disappointed.