Don't Stray from the Rules
I could start this review of "Don't Say a Word" by mentioning the Mel Gibson movie "Ransom" where his son was kidnapped, but then again I could mention one of over a hundred movies where we have a kidnapped child and a parent being blackmailed by kidnappers forced to desperate measures. Basically what I am saying is that "Don't Say a Word" takes old story bones and just slaps on a different skin which ultimately makes it incredibly familiar. That doesn't make "Don't Say a Word" a bad movie just a familiar one which plucks out some familiar scenes using actors in regular characters delivering familiar performances.
During a robbery Patrick (Sean Bean - When Saturday Comes) is doubled crossed by two of his team who make off with a precious stone which he desperately wants. A decade later and renowned psychologist Dr. Nathan R. Conrad (Michael Douglas - One Night at McCool's) is asked to consult on a disturbed young woman called Elisabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy - Sidewalks of New York) who has been in an institution for years. It seems that deep within her troubled mind Elisabeth has a code number which Patrick needs to get what he wants and in order to get it he kidnaps Nathan's daughter forcing him to help Elisabeth reveal the number.
So as I said "Don't Say a Word" takes a familiar idea and basically puts a different story over the top of it. As such the movie starts with a bank job and then we meet psychiatrist Nathan who of course with this being a Michael Douglas movie has an attractive wife and sweet child.
But strip away the story and what is left is a classic movie framework where Nathan has to deal with the demands of a man who has kidnapped his daughter and inevitably ends up taking matters in to his own hands. There are some variations on the familiar, where usually the kidnappers lead the father on a merry dance we instead have Nathan leading the kidnappers on a merry dance. But despite the dressing up "Don't Say a Word" still remains ultimately a movie which sticks to a formula.
What it also does is stick well known actors in familiar roles with Michael Douglas as Nathan playing it in a typical Douglas fashion as the good guy. And typically Douglas has an attractive wife which in this case is the under used Famke Janssen whilst he also has to have a nemesis which is Sean Bean delivering a typical Sean Bean bad guy. The only performance which stands out is from Brittany Murphy who at least has a character which requires her to be dark and at times unsettling.
What this all boils down to is that "Don't Say a Word" is entertaining but it is only entertaining in a typical way with a familiar formula and familiar performances. The only exception to this is Brittany Murphy who delivers a stand out performance thanks to having the only real character in the movie which breaks the mould.