Don't Say a Word



Photo: 20th Century Fox

Despite its’ surprisingly creepy climax, ‘Don’t Say a Word’ manages to simply retain its’ appeal as a finite thriller that does not thrill as much as much as it over dramatizes. Michael Douglas plays a prominent New York Psychologist who must unravel a 6-digit figure withheld by one of his most difficult patients in an attempt to save his daughter from the clutches of evil kidnappers.

From its’ promising opening of a botched robbery, the film does take its’ time to unravel and create some depth all the while making us understand and soaking us in the love this prominent figure has for his wife and his child. Director Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls, Impostor) has not an impact on the thriller genre and must make another attempt at delivering a great thriller. His previous films have been mediocre creations and this thriller is no different. One astounding note in the film pertains to the casting of a young Brittany Murphy (Sidewalks of New York, Summer Catch) as the disillusioned patient who possesses a key secret at getting back what the kidnappers must acquire.

Besides some pretty camera work and the monotonous and formulaic routine of a typical thriller, e.g. the 5 p.m. deadline – or she dies… the film never really seems to lift itself from its’ own mediocrity. Sean Bean plays his typical role as a villain hell-bent on getting what he wants and will go to any length to get it, unfortunately, the audience has already digested this typical villain and he as an actor does not bring anything refreshing to the film.

The film is well done and will pass two hours for a viewer easily, yet as a thriller it fails to thrill the audience. How haunting is it to have one’s daughter in the hands of a stranger? Douglas as our father figure does his best at comforting his bed-stricken wife (Famke Jansen) and taking matters into his own hands. He also manages his typical delivery where he pauses and reflects between each uttered phrase, but even he is getting repetitive at these films. The film does not capture the intensity that such a situation would create.

Douglas seems perfectly cast as the prominent figure as audiences have internally come to associate him with difficult situations. Furthermore, who better to play this role as a pondering, ‘balls out’ Doctor who wants to save his daughter? Director Fleder relies on a formulaic approach in hopes of redeeming a tired and antiquated script. As for the characters that are embedded within the film, it seems to incorporate characters that seem strewn in simply to deter our thought patterns in unravelling this film. Note: was that female Detective really necessary; and did she have to be that mean?

The only promising moment of the film was the climax in which point I could have solidified the labelling the film as a formulaic thriller. An abandoned graveyard and decomposed corpses catalytically launch the film into an area of the formula for all formulaic thrillers. Its only satisfying attribute was the horrible death one of the characters would endure.

The film must be respected for its’ ambitiousness, but it is clear that Director Fleder had made it a point to rely on his inefficient directing skills when tackling this weak script. It definitely had potential but fell apart at the midway point when the audience knew that the film would not deliver the expected thrills promised.

Click here to comment on this review or post your own thoughts.

Giancarlo De Lisi


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