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Panic Room

A movie directed by David Fincher

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Be afraid, very afriad.

  • Mar 12, 2002
Pros: Foster and a good premise.

Cons: Lack of real tension.

The Bottom Line: A good premise but lacks real tension. Foster is fantastic.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

One of the greatestest concerns in our modern world is that of safety. People spend thousands of dollars on alarms, weapons, defense classes, and homes in safe areas, in an effort to obtain a sense of security for their families. Recent world events have shaken many people to their very cores, as the sense of security once enjoyed by many has been disrupted by the reality of senseless violence.

In the new film “Panic Room” audiences are introduced to Meg Altman (Jody Foster), a woman who is in the process of divorcing her wealthy, yet adulterous husband. Meg purchases a new home in New York City where she believes she can start her life over and care for her daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart). One of the unique features of their new home is that it features a panic room, a hidden chamber that allows the occupants to hide safely from any intruders to the home. During their first night in the new house, Meg is startled to see three figures moving about her home on the security monitors. Grabbing Sarah quickly, Meg heads into the panic room and seals them in.

It seems that the three intruders are looking for a safe that is located in the panic room, and had not expected anyone to be in the house for another week. The intruders are lead by Junior (Jared Leto), a tense individual who is attempting to rob the safe in an effort to collect the inheritance he believes his late grandfather owes him. Burnham, (Forest Whitaker), a security expert who is along to get around the security system and open the safe and Raoul (Dwight Yoakam), is a heavy that is brought in as little more than an afterthought by the group, who soon shows himself to be a dangerous character.
What follows is a cat and mouse game as the group tries to roust Meg and Sarah from the panic room so they can get what they want. Fearing for their safety though, Meg fights the intruders in a battle of wits and wills for their safety.

The film was directed by David Fincher who did some outstanding work with the films “Fight Club” and “Seven” but seems to be unsure of what to do in this film. His distinct visual style is evident as the look of the house, the darkness that envelops the cast, and the attention to detail are evident in every scene. What is missing is a sense of tension, Foster and Whitaker are great, but they are given little to work with aside from a stock situation of intruders in a home and without edge of your seat suspense, the film falls flat. Even when danger is present, the audience does not get as caught up in the situation as a film of this type would require. The big problem is the character of Meg, as she is far too intelligent for the intruders and she is always one step ahead of them.

She also possesses some unexplained yet outstanding practical applications of science and electronics, which she uses to thwart the bad guys. Another fact I had problems with is the history of Burnham. Junior explains to him that he needs them money, and he has to be there, and he makes mention of his family, yet we never learn of his motivation even when he starts to question what the group is doing.

The film has some entertaining moments, but there is little to make the film stand out aside from the outstanding Foster, but in the end, even that is not enough to raise this movie up from being a middle of the road suspense film.

3 stars out of 5

Gareth Von Kallenbach



Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More Panic Room reviews
Quick Tip by . October 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Ehhhh, ummmm. Ehhhh. I really like the director David Fincher and am a fan of Jodie Foster. The movie is 'interesting' which is a long word for watch it if you are fans of either person otherwise I imagine you will find it dull.
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #111
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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As David Fincher's PANIC ROOM begins, recently divorced Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) halfheartedly tours an old New York City townhouse with her restless young daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart). Using money from her divorce settlement, the unhappy mother decides to buy the spacious home. The former abode of a wealthy eccentric, this townhouse contains an unusual extra feature, a supposedly impenetrable "panic room" equipped with surveillance monitors, a separate phone line, and other survival aids, where residents can hide in case of emergency. When three men--Burnham (Forest Whitaker), Junior (Jared Leto), and Raoul (Dwight Yoakam)--break into their new home, Meg and Sarah end up using the panic room much sooner than they could have possibly imagined. And, unfortunately for them, these intruders are not simple burglars; they possess knowledge that makes the situation much more perilous. <br> <br> Hitchcockian in its confined setting and carefully doled-out suspense, Fincher's PANIC ROOM is more straightfor...
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Director: David Fincher
Release Date: 2002
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (September 17, 2002)
Runtime: 1hr 52min
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