Don't Say a WordSeptember 28, 2001
When the daughter of a psychiatrist is kidnapped, he's horrified to discover that the abductors' demand is that he break through to a post traumatic stress disorder suffering young woman who knows a secret…
Release Year: 2001
Rating: 6.1/10 (26,180 voted)
Critic's Score: 38/100
Stars: Michael Douglas, Sean Bean, Brittany Murphy
A group of thieves steal a rare gem, but in the process, two of the men double cross the leader of the thieving group, Patrick, and take off with the precious stone. Ten years later, prominent psychiatrist Nathan Conrad is invited to examine a disturbed young woman named Elisabeth. Patrick immediately kidnaps Nathan's daughter, forcing Nathan to attempt to get Elisabeth to reveal a secret number which will ultimately lead Patrick to the whereabouts of the precious gem that has eluded him.
Writers: Andrew Klavan, Anthony Peckham
Dr. Nathan R. Conrad
Skye McCole Bartusiak
Detective Sandra Cassidy
Dr. Louis Sachs
Leon Edward Croft
You want what they want, don't you… I'll never tell… any of you.
Release Date: 28 September 2001
Filming Locations: Hart Island, Bronx, New York City, New York, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $17,090,474
(30 September 2001)
(27 January 2002)
Did You Know?
Sean Bean actually spoke to Michael Douglas and Famke Janssen on the cell phones during filming.
When Dr. Conrad is on the phone with the kidnappers, he hangs up and throws the phone onto the bed. Yet when the kidnapper calls back and Dr. Conrad answers the sound of the phone being lifted from the cradle can clearly be heard even though the phone was not placed on the cradle.
Where were you tonight?
I was working!
Well, because I was helping a young girl.
Oh well alright but that's going to cost ya!
Alright what's it going to be?
One hug, two kisses!
Two kisses? Boy, you got us a tough deal!
Ve Haff Vays of MAKING You Talk…
They say there's nothing new under the sun, and that's especially apt in
sunny Hollywood. So it's tempting to ask, merely as a theoretical
"can you make a movie that is essentially a model kit assembled from other
movies, and still make it effective?" "Don't Say a Word" proves that the
answer is "Yes." WHY you would want to set out to do such a thing is
another question; you'll have to ask the producers about
In the movie, Michael Douglas plays an affluent, happily married
psychologist who has to contend (as Michael Douglas does in every movie),
with a seriously disturbed woman. The femme-looney in this outing is
Elizabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy), a 10-year, 20-institution veteran
enough contradictory diagnoses to sink a DSM textbook. He is called in to
consult by a colleague (Oliver Platt) and then is bewildered as a shadowy
band of Bad Guys snatch his daughter and demand that he work his famed
empathy thing with poor Britt and get her to give him a ten-digit number
that they need. Her dad, it seems, ripped them off during the heist of a
precious red jewel, and they need the number to find it. Douglas figures
out that while she has problems of her own, Elizabeth has been confounding
her doctors by imitating various symptoms, in effect, staying
institutionalized to hide from the evildoers. Me, I would have gone to
Tahiti; to each his own.
The kidnap-flick tropes then come in fast and heavy: the Panicked
the Initial Phone Call, The List of Rules (no cops, yada yada), "No Deal
I Talk to My Daughter", the Desperate Clock-Race Across Town, the Tough
Female Detective trying to Figure It All Out, and more. We get a host of
other familiar faces, too: the Bad Guys are a band of high-tech thieves
(which are so common in movies, they must have a hell of a union), with
black leather jackets, sleek laptops, and a guy whose job during the
is to stand in the middle of the bank with a stopwatch calling off the
as though they were at the Olympic trials for the 100-meter
But all this is skillfully handled, with just enough tweaks to the
formulas to make it feel fresh. At one point, Douglas makes the
relocate to meet him, a nice twist on the usual "kidnappers run the bagman
all over town" scene. And the bit with the mental patient, well, it beats
can-we-raise-the-money-in-time? For his part, Michael Douglas does well,
though he is a little too slick to portray besieged decent men. My hunch
that Harrison Ford was first choice to play this role. Famke Janssen is
good as his wife. Though the script gives her little to do, she is really
the one who makes us feel the panic and despair that attend the abduction
a child, and though it's a familiar movie scenario, it is still able to
on the nerves quite effectively. The little girl playing Douglas'
does well, too, cute but not cloying, smart but credible; there is an
amusing scene where she attempts to make conversation with the hulking,
tattooed murderer who is guarding her, eventually cajoling him into making
peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. And, carrying on the proud tradition
started by Alyssa Milano in "Commando", does her level best to foil her
The Bad Guys are a little disappointing. They are assigned quirks rather
than characters (one never appears to have a name). As the head villain,
Sean Bean makes what he can of his feral charisma, but he literally phones
this performance in. I think the poor guy is doomed to spend the rest of
his career playing Hibernian heavies in leather jackets. Their operation
seems a little too well-orchestrated, especially since the movie
take place less than three weeks after they've been sprung after doing a
dime in Attica (where one guesses they studied electronic eavesdropping in
between lifting weights). And while the movie doesn't say how much the
priceless rock is worth, by my estimation, after splitting the proceeds
covering their overhead, surveillance equipment, and tattoos, the gang
should have just enough left for a celebratory lunch at the
The best performance is by Brittany Murphy as the twitchy, wary Elizabeth.
With her weird hand gestures and tuneless singing, this character could
been really annoying. But Murphy makes her guileless and affecting.
Watching her stare out her barred window at the tugboats in the river,
heart breaks just a little.
The story is not always credible, especially the parts involving Jennifer
Esposito as the detective, who is really a sideshow anyway. We also see
several New Yorkers who are surprisingly pliant when deprived of
from cell phones to speedboats. And the parents adhere blindly to the
"don't tell the cops" rule, even after it is laughably impractical to do
The thing that really makes the movie work is the setting and the way it
shot by director Gary Fleder, who made the underrated "Things to Do in
Denver When You're Dead". Fleder puts us in claustophobic, oppressive
places, from underground morgues to puke-green institution hallways with
prison doors and disturbing graffiti, to the fog-shrouded darkness of
Potter's Field, graveyard of the anonymous dead of New York City. Even
Douglas' luxury apartment seems at tight quarters, and these places are
filmed in such a way to make this close to a horror movie. The dark
is formulaic, but give a neat twist in location. The number,
doesn't refer to an uplink code or satellite designation or encryption key
or any of the usual millenial McGuffins of late. What it represents is
something surprising, sad, and refreshingly old-fashioned. Which kind of
goes for the rest of the movie as well.