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don't say a word
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Don't Say A Word

Starring Michael Douglas and Sean Bean with Famke Janssen and Oliver Platt
Screenplay by Anthony Peckham and Patrick Smith Kelly
Based on the novel by Andrew Klavan
Directed by Gary Fleder

IN SHORT: A decent thriller. [Rated R (for violence, including some gruesome images, and language. 120 minutes]

All right, tell us if you've heard this one before: a successful man gets a phone call. He's given a finite amount of time to accomplish an impossible task or someone close to him is going to get killed. Of course you've heard it before. The reason is that, given the right set of circumstances, you can be told this story in all sorts of ways and still have a good time watching it. If you're looking for a list of similar movies, send an eMail to Leonard Maltin.

We can't think of anyone better to fill the role of dad-who-must-protect than Michael Douglas, whose Dr. Nathan Conrad is that loving upper middle aged dad with younger wife and girl kidlet that is gentle enough to enjoy playing hide and seek with his eight year old daughter Jessie (Skye McCole Bartusiak) and tough enough to fight back if he's pushed hard enough.

Ten years ago, screentime 1991, there were a couple of robberies across the river in Brooklyn, one in a bank. The other between thieves, which is what it all comes down to in the end. Greed. In the present day, with wife Aggie (Famke Janssen) laid up due to a skiing accident, it is Dr. Conrad's job to pick up the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. On his way to the Fairway Supermarket, his beeper goes off with a "911" call from fellow psychiatrist Louis Sachs (Oliver Platt), who is on the staff of the Bridgeview Psychiatric Hospital. Sachs has a catatonic schizophrenic patient who must, must I tell you, be looked at before the long holiday weekend begins. The patient, Elisabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy) was transferred to the nuthouse after slice 'n' dicing an orderly at the last hospital she was confined at. You'll see pictures. It ain't pretty what can be done with a razor blade.

Dr. Conrad being the gold-star shrink that he is, cuts to the chase in less than five minutes. But, less than twenty four hours later, his daughter will be missing and the kidnappers, led by a Brit thief named Koster (Sean Bean), will be demanding information that only Ms. Burrows can (and won't) provide. They've also managed to wire his apartment for sound and picture, which is just the first of a number of niggling bits that get in the way. That's the value of star power. It exists so that you don't notice oodles of apparent discrepancies that litter the movie. There are many of these, most of which are settled as you make your way through the film.

Working in parallel is a story about a body found floating in the East River. The investigation, led by Detective Sandra Cassidy (Jennifer Esposito), will eventually prove important to the kidnaping -- which the police know nothing about because, well, the kidnappers did tell Conrad not to say a word . . .

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Don't Say A Word, he would have paid . . .


Don't Say A Word is slow to start. Slow to wrap up. In between it's an okay thriller but the entire ending of the flick rests on one thing that doesn't make sense, now that we've had a couple of days to think about it. That's why we need starpower.

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