Cat Got Your Tongue?

Silence is louder than words.

The man with the fatal attraction is back - and he'll do anything to save his daughter. Especially when he has to deal with a traumatised patient and a bunch of hoodlums who are watching his every move.

The movie starts off with a bank heist, where a smoothly run operation is executed for just one thing - a ten-million-dollar ruby. But, as in many cases, one of the gang turns renegade and disappears with the stone, leaving a fuming Patrick Koster (Sean Bean, "Goldeneye"), head of the gang, searching for him.

Skip ten years ahead. Dr. Nathan Conrad (Douglas), a famous psychiatrist with a gift for working with teenagers, is asked by a colleague to help out with a peculiar case - a young girl with a wide array of psychological troubles but no real understanding of how they've come about. The good doctor agrees to give to help, and gets drawn into a crazy world. Elisabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy, "Girl, Interrupted") turns out to be an excellent actress, who also turns out to have a secret. Making no further headway, the doctr heads back home to his injured wife and his loving daughter, Jessie.

The night passes without further ado, which just makes the next morning that much more surreal for the Conrads. There is no sign of Jessie and then Dr. Conrad gets a call from Patrick, who obviously has Jessie in hostage. All they want is a 6-digit code that only Elisabeth knows and all he has to do is find out what it is by five pm that evening. Wherein starts the chase.

The film is crisply edited and the story moves along quickly enough to gloss over quite a few unexplained details and gross simplificationsAnd there are some amazingly predictable scenes, like the one with the numbers in the end. But then the pace of the film helps overlook these nitty-gritty details. The simultaneous plot-lines and quick turn of events are enough to keep one engrossed, especially the final thirty minutes.

The acting is dominated by Michael Douglas. He fits easily into the role of a caring man who just wants to get out of this mess that he's improbably been dragged into. There are times when he seems to be overdoing it a bit, particularly when he gets the phone call informing him of his daughter's kidnapping, but he passes that by pretty easily.

Murphy is excellent as the traumatised Elisabeth, yet throws in enough of attitude and cockiness to give a realistic picture. She flounces around and acts weird enough to give credence to her story, but still manages to look genuinely terrified when required. The rest just fill in - there's not much for either the wife, the villains or the detective to do, except try to be brave, mutter menacing threats and try and look intelligent respectively. To give them credit, though, they do manage to put in a decent performance.

The film is taut enough to hold your attention and the acting adds to the glamour. Definitely worth a watch.

This article was first published on 08 Jan 2002.