Michael Douglas returns to the genre he is known for in the psychological thriller Don't Say A Word, where a psychiatrist is forced to pry a number out of one of his patients' heads before a group of men kill his daughter.
Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, Disclosure and The Game are all excellent movies that Douglas can boast as his own, and so you can probably understand if I told you that I was getting pretty excited about seeing Don't Say A Word. And, considering that this is a movie review, you definitely will understand when I tell you that Don't Say A Word is a smart thriller that falls just a little short of my expectations. Mind you that my expectations were pretty high...
Douglas, like many of his other movies, is thrown into a cat-and-mouse game where the police are no help to him, and he must fend for himself, all the while the audience knowing that he will somehow figure out a way to take everything down at the end. Unfortunately, Don't Say A Word is a little more cluttered than what Douglas is used to, because he really isn't working all by himself. He is relying on a catatonic patient (Brittany Murphy) for the number, and in another part of the town, a police detective (Jennifer Esposito) is hunting down the killer of a body that was found in the river. Also, Famke Janssen as Douglas' wife plays a pretty big role, even though she is all but restrained to her bed with a broken leg.
Each story in its own right is well done, but put all together and it feels as though Don't Say A Word is trying to tell too much in too little of time. One scene with Janssen, where she hears her daughter through the ventilation system, is quite gripping, but takes away from Douglas' hunt. The whole storyline involving the police seems unnecessary, as if the writers were trying to find an easy end to the movie. Of course, the most interesting story is the relationship between Douglas and Murphy, but because the movie is convinced that it needs these other subplots, the main focus is nibbled away.
Don't Say A Word is suspenseful, but I did not feel as entwined in this movie as I did in some of the classic thrillers, including those movies I mentioned earlier. Some of the sheer panic and frustration that Douglas faces in his other movies is not present hear, as he always seems to be one step ahead of the kidnappers, even if he really isn't.
Don't Say A Word is a pretty good movie, but it is obvious that it could have been better had it collected its thoughts a little more ahead of time. It's worth seeing, but won't be referred to when talking about Douglas' great movies.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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