Don't Say a Word (2001)
Director: Gary Fleder
Renowned psychiatrist Nathan Conrad (Douglas) is a happy family man up until his daughter (Bartusiak) is kidnapped by a bitter thief (Bean) and his crew. In order to get his kid back, Conrad has to get some information out of a mental case chick (Murphy) in the nut house. You see, she knows the whereabouts of a valuable stone the thieves got suckered out of 10 years ago and they really want it back. Who says greed is good?
Are you guys ready for a lousy critic's pun? Here it goes: I won’t say a word…. I’ll say three: this movie blows! Did you enjoy that? Good, now let me proceed with this review. What the hell happened here? The movie starts off on the right foot with an exciting jewel heist. Then, the first plot point is slapped our way, which has Conrad’s daughter being kidnapped by the thieves. So far, so good and then…well, it all goes to shit and intelligence is tossed out the window.
** Some spoilers ** Where do I begin with this turkey? Should I comment on the fact that the robbers look exactly the same 10 years after the initial robbery? Or should I talk about their shitty motives? All that for a fucking stone! How about pulling another bank heist...that's way simpler, dudes. No, I think I’ll talk about the Brittany Murphy character first since I had so much trouble pinning her down. Now was she nuts? Or was she pretending to be nuts? Did she know where the stone was or didn’t she? I’m not sure and I don’t think the screenwriter knew either. The film keeps on going back and forth with her sanity just to serve the story. It doesn’t play fair with us. If she was really pretending to be nuts in order to hide out from the thieves (the movie slaps that theory our way at a certain point but doesn’t really go into it) then it doesn’t make any goddamn sense. Ever heard of taking a plane to the Bahamas to hide out? No way somebody would fake it for 10 freaking years, going through hell just to hide out. What was the screenwriter snorting?
But "Don’t Say A Word" goes on to insult our intelligence some more by adding a useless subplot involving a detective on the case (Esposito). The subplot brings absolutely nothing to the story and is basically there so that Esposito can pop out in the finale to…I won't tell, but take a wild guess. What a waste of time! While I’m on the ending, can I ask one question? Why do bad guys in American thrillers always have to die in a spectacular, farfetched ways? What ever happened to a good old-fashioned bullet in the head? Here it’s rendered even more ridiculous by Fleder’s inclusion of a “quick insert” to force feed to the audience that the villain’s demise has a sense of poetic justice to it. I almost hurled.
"Don’t Say A Word" pissed me off me throughout. If it wasn’t the fact that Douglas’ daughter had practically the same doll Murphy had when she was young (what a coincidence), it was Famke Jenssen in a leg cast beating the shit out of a stone cold killer (come on!). I went from liking the situation, to laughing at it, to finally hating the whole damn thing. Did I appreciate anything about this film, you may ask? Well, Fleder does showcase some nice directing moments. I’m also a fan of Michael Douglas and here he gives another solid performance. Brittany Murphy also delivers and even when she looks like shit, she looks hot. Apart from that…not much. Here are four more words for ya! Hollywood thinks we’re imbeciles!
A guy getting hit with a crutch in the face, a guy getting stabbed with a knitting needle, gunshot wounds and shovel hits in the face. Not much in this department…
Michael Douglas (Conrad) gives a solid show (like he always does) but it's too bad that he's in a lousy film. Jennifer Esposito (Sandra) forgot how to act for this one, man did she stink! She didn’t convince me for a second! Nice leather jacket though. Famke Jenssen (Aggie) does what she has to do, nothing more, nothing less. Didn’t Sean Bean (Patrick) play this part already in “Patriot Games”? He plays it well…again.. I have a thing for Brittany Murphy (Elisabeth) and she doesn’t disappoint. Too bad her part is so vague and that she already played it before in “Girl Interrupted”. Oliver Platt (Jerald) plays Oliver Platt again, good part, he’s always funny. Skye McCole Bartusiak (Jessie) didn’t annoy me as the young daughter and that’s a feat in itself.
T & A
Nothing. Brittany Murphy does reach for her breast at a certain point and fondles it but that’s as far as she goes. Tease…
Fleder shows off some very nice moments. I loved the "washed out" look of the opening heist. I also dug the occasional slow motion, the grainy flashbacks and the stylish shots. The film looks slick. On the flip side, he has a knack of forcing his points down audience’s throats through his directing.
A generic score that was drowned by my laughs, my bitching and my moaning. Was that Tone Loc’s “Funky Cold Medina” I heard in the beginning though?
It's very simple. On a surface level, the film succeeds. It’s mostly well directed and the actors (not counting Esposito) all do their jobs very well. But the script…oh god, the script is a damn mess! It’s manipulative, filled with plot holes, makes bad decisions, drags on and lacks common sense. Not once did I feel genuine tension during this film. Not once did I care about anybody in it either. Overall, this movie can kiss my arse! Brittany call me already! You have my number!
This film was shot in New York City and Toronto, Canada.