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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. Gary Fleder

Reviewer. Dan Cook

A film with a title almost as forgettable as it’s premise, DON'T SAY A WORD is a painfully by-the-numbers psychological thriller which may have some good performances and interesting visuals but doesn’t have the story or script to justify them. Based on the novel of the same name by Andrew Klavan, the film stars Michael Douglas as renowned child psychiatrist Nathan Conrad who is horrified to learn that, in order to save the life of his kidnapped daughter, he must somehow infiltrate the mind of a young PTSD sufferer (Brittany Murphy) whose clouded memory holds a valuable secret.

Director Gary Fleder certainly knows how to conduct an engaging action set piece - the opening bank robbery sequence is particularly well done - and the intense work from Douglas, Murphy and a sorely underused Famke Janssen definitely help to maintain an atmosphere of claustrophobic tension throughout. The score by Mark Isham hits all of the right thematic notes and the finale set in the fog of a decaying cemetery is a suitably bullet-riddled caper that allows for some interesting camerawork and gloomy cinematography courtesy of regular Michael Bay collaborator Amir Mokri.

However, despite a fairly average running time of 113 minutes, the film feels terribly overstretched at times, bouncing between moderately interesting to painfully dull and generic with frustrating regularity as it tries to haphazardly juggle the increasingly implausible storylines that are playing alongside each other. The cardboard cutout villain played with sweary gusto by Sean Bean isn’t the least bit threatening but, in typical fashion, meets his end in a memorably horrific manner while the cliched screenplay by Anthony Peckham and Patrick Smith Kelly, particularly its handling of serious mental illness, leaves a great deal to be desired. It may look like a thriller and indeed sound like a thriller’ but DON'T SAY A WORD fatally lacks the one key element of a thriller - actual thrills.

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