The thriller genre of late has been lacking. They have lacked the key ingrediant the genre needs: thrills. Many films from the past year or two have been slow, boring and everything but suspensful and memorable. Don't Say a Word succeeds where others have failed. The movie gets many points just for getting one of the master actors in Hollywood with Michael Douglas. Douglas has the acting flexibility to go from one genre to the next and still give a superb perfomance. 1997 Douglas made an impact in David Fincher's The Game where he is rich executive pulled into a mysterious "game" in which his money and his life are in jeopardy. Then in1998 he played a murdering, jealous, rich executive husband to Gwyneth Paltrow in A Perfect Murder. In less than a year he played both sides of the coin in two excellent thrillers. He goes either way- good guy or bad, Douglas knows how to give the audience a good time. This time around Douglas plays New York psychologist Dr. Nathan Conrad, who gets called in to a strange case involving a teenage girl brought in after she brutally murdered a man. At the insistance of his friend and colleage Dr. Jerald Sachs (Oliver Platt), he agrees to see her. And certainly this girl needs help. The girl, Elisabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy), has been in and out of more than 20 mental hospitals through 10 years; each time with a different mental symptoms. This scene really sets up the entire film. What was great about it was the tension between the characters as you brace yourself for some kind of an attack from Elisabeth (I won't say if it happened so not to spoil the scene). After visiting with her for a few minutes Conrad goes home to his wife (Famke Janssen), whose held up in bed with a broken leg, and daughter. Thanksgiving morning comes and Nathan gets a call from the man who kidnapped her. The deal is to get a 6 digit number from Elisabeth by 5:00 pm or she dies. The question is: what is Elisabeth's past? The answer goes back to 1991. A team of sophisticated crooks rob a safe deposit box with a exquisate red diamond valued at more than $10 million smackeroos. The leader of the group, Patrick Koster (Sean Bean), discovers after pulling off the heist that one of his associates made off with the diamond. It is revealed what happened to the man throughout the movie but I will tell you that Elisabeth was his daughter. The "time" plot is one of my favorites in a thriller. There's a sense of urgency in these types, life or death, and almost everytime, it works. It works because you question whether the main character will get the job done in time, or if he fails and suffers the consequences. Most films stick to the former, even so, it's the best plot device for the thriller genre. I already mentioned Michael Douglas and his contribution to the film, giving a so-so plot some life and making this a nice treat. But the supporting cast also deserve some recognition. Sean Bean has been most seen in commercials but also made impacts in Ronin and a Bond-bad guy in GoldenEye. Bean's Patrick character is all in all just your basic run in the mill greedy antongonist without a past or a care in the world. But knowing thrillers as I do, this was not surprising. Most villians in the genre are flat giving more character quality time to the main character. The next is Famke Janssen who plays Aggie Conrad, Nathan's wife. I felt that her role was too small for this actress, but after thinking about it, her only "big" role was in the 2000 hit X-Men. Previously she has been in some small films that explains why she's still not widely known outside of the X fans. Janssen was perfect for the role and never overplays it. Then there's Brittany Murphy, an actress that has been hanging around in countless films and guest TV appearances. Her first big role was in the 1995 teen hit, Clueless. She would later appear in another mental picture, Girl, Interrupted giving a good performance. Murphy has made a killing lately in getting her face and name to the average movie-goer. Don't Say a Word is the second of four films this year, the first being Summer Catch. Later this month you can see her in Riding in Cars with Boys with Drew Barrymore and then 2002 in Spun starring John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari and Mickey Rourke. Also later this year she's set to appear in Sidewalks of New York. My one complaint is the Jennifer Esposito character. Jennifer plays a New York homicide detective investigating the brutal deaths of a man and a woman. These deaths lead her to Conrad, Sachs and Burrows. Esposito just never had any time to get her character going. It was flat and basically souless. I didn't care what happened to her which is pivital as we should root for her toward the end. Behind the camera is Gary Fleder, a director that before this film I had not heard of and only seen one of his few feature films, Kiss the Girls. Fleder has a style about him reminding me at times of Steven Soderbergh. He sometimes uses a blue tint in one scene and then switches to a soft pastelle look in another. The look works quite well and although it's not Spielberg-like work, he surpasses Girls. Don't Say a Word was written by two relatively new screenwriters. Patrick Smith Kelly and Anthony Peckham have only combined to do one film beween the two not including this one. The screenplay was based on the novel by Andrew Klavan. The plot is basic and if not for a great cast, it wouldn't have been close to being as good. Overall I enjoyed Don't Say a Word. It is the thrillers among thrillers and doesn't disspoint from the first to the last scene. The camera work gives it's own feel and Michael Douglas shows us he still has what it takes to be the hero of a movie. Along with Douglas, Janssen and Bean suppor him well and give us reasons to care about the outcome and overlook a standard script that with the exception of a scene here and there, lacks any substance. In my opinion, if you are a Michael Douglas fan, go see it. If you are a thriller genre fan, go see it. If you just want to have a good time, definately go see it, you won't be disappointed.