Speaking of coincidences, Don't Say a Word is also set in New York City, making this week's movie column three for three. Unlike Zoolander, which had its peeks at the World Trade Center digitally removed, Don't Say a Word leaves them in, and they bring the only genuine emotion to this by-the-numbers beat-the-clock thriller. Michael Douglas stars as an Upper West Side psychiatrist who picks up the Thanksgiving turkey on the way home from work, gives his leg-in-a-cast wife (Famke Jannsen) a sponge bath and then, the next morning, serves her breakfast in bed. But can he retrieve his daughter (Skye McCole Bartusiak) from kidnappers who intend to hold on to her until the good doctor can convince one of his patients (Brittany Murphy) to cough up a six-digit number that will lead them to a stolen ruby? And can he do it by five o'clock?
Such scenarios seem dreadfully beside the point after the recent terrorist attacks, but I should probably point out that director Gary Fleder, who kept tripping over his own feet in Kiss the Girls, keeps Don't Say a Word moving forward right up to the climactic scene, which reminds us of the collapse of the Trade Center towers. This kind of thing will probably happen a lot in the next several months, despite Hollywood's effort to purge its release schedule of bombs, hijackings, terrorists and really tall buildings. Sean Bean, who plays the ruthless mastermind in Don't Say a Word, is English, and it's difficult to take him seriously, so smoothly do the vowels and consonants roll off his tongue. Or is it just that nothing on the big screen seems terribly threatening, or relevant, these days? Unlike the events of Sept. 11, this is only a movie.