At least those good people at 20th Century Fox gave us fair warning. Just as the title indicates, the less said about Don't Say A Word, the better. It's by no means the worst thriller of recent years, but it's certainly the most preposterous.
In a film crammed full of ridiculous moments, the one that's most indicative of the screenwriters' complete disdain for reality has to be a scene where a hardened criminal (who has just spent 10 years cooling his heels in chokey) receives a thorough ass-kicking from a housewife with a broken leg.
Only old saggy-jowls, Michael Douglas, keeps the increasingly silly, excitement-starved action watchable. Resparking the vulnerable, intense persona he wheeled out in Traffic, Douglas' psychiatrist provides this generally frantic, soulless movie with a solid emotional core. He's one of the few stars who can, with just a shrug of a shoulder or a determined stare, make an impossible situation not only seem plausible, but entertaining. But while Douglas' long career has confronted him with everything from Japanese Yakuza thugs to ice-pick wielding blondes, not even he can overcome a lousy script.
In the showy ""I'm mad, me!"" role, Brittany Murphy (Clueless, Cherry Falls) is solid enough, while Sean Bean once again proves to be a formidable screen presence. As the head jewel thief/ kidnapper, he does pretty well with a seriously underwritten part, recycling the mannerisms of his memorable GoldenEye villain and cementing his position as Hollywood's resident Brit-baddy. His fellow GoldenEye alumni, Famke Janssen, suffers a much worse fate, though. Saddled with the barely sketched character of Conrad's wife, her only distinguishing feature is a leg in plaster.
Director Gary Fleder aggressively tries to crib the visual style of David Fincher, stuffing the frame with 360 degree camera moves and unrelenting fluorescent light. But he's got none of Fincher's grace, while the overbearing soundtrack he slaps on the film becomes plain embarrassing. Actors can't even turn their heads without an accompanying "wooosh" booming out of the speakers, and the couple of genuine drop-your-popcorn shocks are due more to ear-popping sound effects, rather than any artful build up of tension.
A slick, implausible ride, Don't Say A Word is unlikely to leave anyone speechless. If anything, the inane scenarios and unimaginative twists may require a title change. How about Don't Laugh Out Loud?
A strong cast and high-concept premise are squandered in a suspense-free ride, as Gary Fleder fails to reproduce the solid thrills of Kiss The Girls. Neither flashy direction and OTT sound effects can compensate for the fundamentally stupid script.