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NOW PLAYING: Don't Say A Word

Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2001

Don't Say A Word is the undeniable truth that a bankable star and an interesting premise can't make you forget that you're basically watching the ABC Movie of the Week. That said, sometimes when you go to the movies, the Movie of the Week is all you really want to see.

Michael Douglas plays Dr. Conrad, a psychotherapist with a good heart and a happy family. Sean Bean, the baddie in Goldeneye, plays a jewel thief who has been double crossed and now will stop at nothing to get his hands on a $10 million dollar ruby. The two cross paths when Dr. Conrad takes a pro-bono case treating a girl who happens to be the only link to the jewel. Conrad's daughter is kidnapped and he has but 12 hours to get the information out of his patient or you know what. Douglas, who is usually very good at plumbing the depths of depravity that ordinary men can sink to, stays strictly in the shallow end of the pool this time out. He doesn't do a bad job, of course, but he's just going through the motions. The rest of the characters are strictly stock. The bad guy who won't let anything get in the way of the ultimate payoff. The strong, supportive, yet ultimately vulnerable wife (she's got a broken leg, so she's basically helpless, yet all the shots of the giant knitting needle lying next to her on the bedside table let us know she's going to be ok.) And, of course, the brave, canny child in peril who is able to both charm and undermine her captors. Nothing you haven't seen a hundred times before.

Calling this film a Movie of the Week isn't too far off. Aside from the ridiculous title, it is apparent that most of the advertising budget went toward television advertisements as opposed to theater ads. The idea is to tap into a group of people that might not normally be tempted to rush out to the show, and it will probably work for a little while, at least. The only problem with the theory is that the Movie of the Week is free, and that $7.00 ticket price could go a long way toward killing the word of mouth buzz.

This review is running a little short, because, honestly, there isn't much to say about the movie. It is simply OK, and goes right in line with the rest of what Hollywood is putting out lately. There are no more risk takers like there were in the late sixties and seventies. Instead of The Outsiders or The Graduate we get an endless string of teen flick with titles like She's All That. Instead of inventive and gritty westerns like The Outlaw Josey Wales, we get "safe" dreck like American Outlaws. However, the thriller has gone through some interesting incarnations of late, and one might hope that the creators of this film would take a cue from movies like The Game or What Lies Beneath. Instead, they casually rip off Ransom, while strictly sticking to the standard kidnapper flick playbook. There's really no question of what's going to happen and, while you may stay pleasantly engaged throughout the film, none of the surprises will seem particularly surprising. The title Don't Say A Word proves ultimately prophetic when talking about the movie. Your friends will ask you if you liked it, and you'll say, "Yeah, it was all right." But when they ask you what was all right about it, you won't have much to say. Grade: C+

Don't Say A Word is rated R for reasons unfathomable to me. I guess it was for language and scenes of child endangerment, but trust me, it's no worse than anything you'd see on CBS Sunday night.



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