One of the most invidious aspects of crime is that the criminal wields power over us, making us feel totally helpless. This is true whether we are robbed or mugged or held hostage. We feel our vulnerability in our deepest core. Shame may even fall over us as we ponder our inability to protect our bodies or the lives of our loved ones. This terrible and terrifying dimension of crime stands at the scary core of Don't Say A Word, a screen adaptation of Andrew Klavan's Edgar Award-winning mystery novel.
When Patrick B. Koster (Sean Bean), a master thief, is betrayed and an associate makes off with a $10 million dollar red diamond from their heist, he vows revenge. He gets it but ends up going to prison before recovering the jewel he so desperately wants. Ten years later, he's out and determined to find what he believes is his.
Meanwhile, New York psychiatrist Dr. Nathan Conrad (Michael Douglas) is called by a colleague (Oliver Platt) to handle a difficult case. The patient is a young woman, Elizabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy), who has been in and out of mental hospitals for years. Now she has killed a man. No one has been able to figure out the source of her violence. Meeting with her at the hospital, Dr. Conrad is mystified by her words: "You want what they want, don't you? . . . I'll never tell . . . any of you."
The next day, the psychiatrist's eight-year-old daughter Jessie (Skye McCole Bartusiak) is kidnapped. Koster has set up a surveillance of their apartment and can monitor everything going on there especially the movements of Dr. Conrad's bed-ridden wife Aggie (Famke Janssen), who has a broken leg with a cast on it. Koster informs the psychiatrist that he must pry a six-digit number from Elizabeth and deliver it by five o'clock or he'll never see his daughter alive again.
Gary Fleder directs this thriller with panache making the most of interlocking elements of the drama including Dr. Conrad's mission, the manipulations of the kidnappers, the work of New York police detective Cassidy (Jennifer Esposito), and the valor of Conrad's wife and daughter while under severe pressure and palpable danger. By fighting back against the Koster's power plays of Koster, the psychiatrist and his family eventually reclaim the dignity and freedom stolen from them.