Panic Room (2002)

Panic Room (2002)
  • Time: 112 min
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Director: David Fincher
  • Cast: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto


Recently divorced Meg Altman and her daughter Sarah have bought a new home in New York. On their tour around the mansion, they come across the panic room. A room so secure, that no one can get in. When three burglars break in, Meg makes a move to the panic room. But all her troubles don’t stop there. The criminals know where she is, and what they require the most in the house is in that very room.

One comment

  • Panic Room is not a bad film by any means, but it does suffer somewhat from a mediocre script, thin characterization and a lackluster ending.

    The main problem I have with Panic Room is the performance of the three thieves. They enter the film like The Three Stooges, immediately undermining the tension that their entrance generates. I mean, for the film to work as strongly as it could, they should be a major threat, but instead they enter the film while bickering like a bunch of numbskulls. And two of them even think they can break through concrete and three inch steel with a sledgehammer. You’re dealing with mental midgets here.

    Stupidest of the three is Leto’s character. He doesn’t know how escrow works, he puts his head against the wall when Foster is about to ignite the gas they’re pumping into the panic room, he shouts at a PA system and he exposes his plan to screw over his fellow burglars simply by talking to himself. The extent of his stupidity is really too much to ask of an audience with any intelligence and his whole character smacks of lazy writing.

    But thankfully Leto’s character gets shot halfway through. And his killing is nicely done. It’s quick, it’s brutal and it allows the unhinged Raoul to step up to the plate as the main villain. And although Raoul is a knob and a bit of a rent a psycho, he does seem like a genuine threat. And it’s even more impressive considering that the actor who plays him, Dwight Yoakam, is a country music star. He may sing hick music, but he turns in a superb performance.

    But although Yoakam is excellent, the film easily belongs to Foster. She’s strong, she’s resourceful and she’s entirely believable as a mother who’ll blow your head off if you mess around with her kid. After all, is there anything more dangerous than a mother backed into a corner? Personally I’d rather take on a 6 foot 4, 300-pound, bum-hungry redneck called Bubba than a 5 foot 4 woman who wants to defend her kid. The burglars should have left the second they realized they were dealing with a ‘mom’.

    However, while I can easily believe in Foster managing to wrestle a gun off of the psychotic Raoul (again illustrating how stupid the thieves are, Raoul at one point tells her to come out of hiding so he can shoot her and get things over. Didn’t he ever have a mum?), her MacGyver routine stretches credibility – igniting the gas is fair enough, but there’s one bit where she somehow hooks up the phone line. She even says, “I have no idea” when her daughter asks her what she’s doing. It’s obvious that Koepp (the writer) has written himself into a corner and this is the result: suddenly she’s a phone expert. But I’m willing to overlook these sorts of things as Fincher gives us ample opportunity to stare at Foster’s cleavage when things get silly. It was actually an excellent decision to have her spend virtually the whole film in a black vest, as you’re never too far from jiggling breasts, which is fair compensation for gaps in logic.

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