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Panic Room (2002)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment Special Edition)
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5.1
 / 10
19 votes
Genres:
Paranoid Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
Director:
David Fincher David Fincher
Starring:
Jodie Foster Jodie Foster
Kristen Stewart Kristen Stewart
Forest Whitaker Forest Whitaker
Dwight Yoakam Dwight Yoakam
Jared Leto Jared Leto
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Review by Chad
Added: September 20, 2004
Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) move into a new house after Meg gets a divorce from her husband Stephen (Patrick Bauchau). As they're being shown around the place, they learn about the last guy who lived there; seems as though he was disabled, wealthy, and paranoid. Nice combination there. Due to the last two parts of that, he had a panic room installed into the house, which turns out to be a room completely sealed off from the rest of the house. Concrete and steel separates it from every other part of the house, it has its own ventilation system and phone-line, and plenty of video cameras to see what's going on outside of that room. What they don't know, however, is that three robbers are planning to break into this place later in the evening and steal something that the wealthy old man had hidden in the house, and they weren't expecting anyone to be moving in until next week. Junior (Jared Leto) leads the group, since the old man was a family member of his; he's also brought along Burnham (Forest Whitaker), a guy who installs security systems for a living, and Raoul (Dwight Yoakam), your basic thug backup guy. When Meg hears them breaking into her house, she grabs Sarah and runs into the safety of the panic room, but soon realizes that the thing that the robbers want is actually inside that panic room with them... and they're pretty desperate to get in there.

After reading some very horrid reviews on this, and finding it for an insanely cheap price (I paid well under five bucks for the Superbit DVD, including shipping), I really wasn't expecting much from this film. Much to my surprise, however, I was quite wrong; this was a very entertaining movie. I can see why most people probably wouldn't like it though, and my reasoning would be the pacing of the storyline. It does slow down a bit in some parts, but in my opinion, that actually does more to raise the tension level than to kill the enjoyment. If you expect action-packed gun-battles or award-winning dialogue sequences in every scene, then you will be sorely disappointed with this movie. That's not to say that it gets boring, but it does take some time to build up the plot, and considering that the entire movie takes place inside a house, and most of it takes place inside the same room, there's not a whole lot that can be done in terms of variety in the backgrounds. Again though, this worked out much better than I'd have expected, thanks in large part to the many twists and various ways that the robbers attempt to break into the room, of which there were quite a few.

The acting was also pretty good throughout, nothing to get too upset about. Jodie Foster (Meg) does better than expected here, but still skirts that line between bland and entertaining a bit too often. With a few retakes on some scenes, she could have completely shocked me with a great performance here. Kristen Stewart (Sarah) just goes on to add to my plea to Hollywood to quit putting children in lead roles of films intended for adults; it very rarely works, and ends up killing the entertainment level most of the time. This kid was actually better than most; she would have been entirely acceptable in some other type of movie, but in this one, it just didn't work. With the heroes out of the way, let's move onto the villains... the real goodness of the acting department here. Jared Leto (Junior) pulls out a great performance as the comedy-relief leader, thought it would have been nice if his character would have had a few more moments of seriousness. From a storyline point of view, it got tiresome after a while, but Jared kept it from getting flat-out lame. Good man, there. Forest Whitaker (Burnham) plays a pretty typical role, that of the villain with a conscience, but pulls out a great performance to keep it from playing out as it does in so many other movies. I think I'm seeing a pattern there... Dwight Yoakam (Raoul) would be contending with Forest for the best-acting award of the film, as he plays one truly despicable character here. He does a great job of using his mannerisms and tone of voice to convey the message at hand, instead of simply delivering the lines in order to get the point across. Solid cast all around on the villainy department, indeed.

Overall, definitely worth the rental or the cable-TV viewing. I wouldn't go so far as to call this brilliant or film-of-the-year worthy, but it was a lot better than most of the other reviews out there make it out to be. 7/10.
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Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #1: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 06/01/2007, 12:36 AM
There's a rich level of suspense, a decent story, good acting, and some pretty nice scenes. Where does the hate come from?
It does not suck.
7.9/10
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 06/01/2007, 12:44 AM
Ditto to everything you just said. "Panic Room" features Fincher's trademark sense of tone and balance, as well as sterling performances from everyone in the cast, especially Forest Whitaker and Dwight Yoakam. Just a kick ass premise that Fincher executed to perfection. 8.5/10.
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