Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 120 minutes
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“I’ll never tell.” If only Gary Fleder’s workmanlike thriller were as much fun as mimicking star Brittany Murphy’s singsong delivery of the film’s tagline. What Murphy’s institutionalized character Elisabeth won’t tell is a six digit number that apparently holds the key to the location to a stolen jewel–not to mention it’s the piece of information sought out by the kidnappers of the young daughter of Elisabeth’s psychiatrist Dr. Nathan Conrad (Michæl Douglas), who has 24 hours to retrieve the number.
So the stage has been set for a nailbiting suspenser–or at least it should have been. The promise of the set-up starts deflating with the introduction of a bland parallel plot involving a police detective’s murder investigation; not helping is an uncomfortable-looking Jennifer Esposito’s thoroughly unconvincing performance as the cop. Quickly following down the path of unbelievability is the main story, which gets harder to swallow as it goes along. Elisabeth’s behavior becomes maddeningly inconsistent–sometimes she’s coherent, sometimes not–but even more ridiculous is the “treatment” that Nathan uses to make an impossibly quick breakthrough with her. All it takes is for him to show her a box full of kids’ items, and suddenly she is eager to tell it all.
Fleder does coax a strong performance from Murphy, and while it’s soon scuttled, he is able to create some creepy atmosphere at the start. He is also able to come up with a couple of rousing moments, particularly a scene where Nathan’s broken leg-afflicted wife (Famke Janssen) somehow holding her own in physical combat with a bad guy. But such overtly calculated crowdpleasers and the oh-so-convenient convergence of plot threads at the climax make the film feel that much more run-of-the-mill.
Posted on October 12, 2001 in Reviews by Michael Dequina
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