Panic Room
Just a sec. Meg (Foster) notices some suspicious characters on the security cameras...
dir David Fincher
scr David Koepp
with Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam, Patrick Bauchau, Ann Magnuson, Ian Buchanan, Paul Schulze, Mel Rodriguez, Richard Conant, Andrew Kevin Walker
release US 29.Mar.02; UK 3.May.02
Columbia
02/US 1h59

4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
run and hide Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven) goes all Hitchcock on us, and the result is a brainy, suspenseful thriller. OK, so we never have much doubt about what will happen, but Fincher pulls out all the visual stops to crank up the heat in this tale of five people in a Manhattan house on one dark and stormy night. After her divorce, Meg (Foster) and her daughter Sarah (Stewart) move in to a swanky Upper West Side mansion. On their first night, they're invaded by three thieves (Whitaker, Leto and Yoakam) and quickly hide in the "panic room", a hidden bunker decked out modern security technology. What ensues is an intelligent and fierce standoff, as the burglars are after a fortune hidden in the secret room by the previous owners.

Fincher's first smart move (besides evoking Hitchcock's spirit with an eyepopping credit sequence) is to make the house itself a character in the story. His predatory camera work, combined with astonishing effects and stunning photography (by Conrad Hall and Daris Khondji), makes us feel the bricks and mortar personally. And then we have Foster, effectively adapting her cerebral persona to a claustrophobic thriller. We are right with her as she panics ... then regroups and tries to outsmart the bickering baddies. While the machinations of the plot are a bit contrived there's a sense of edgy, freewheeling violence that keeps it from becoming yet another predictable thriller, and keeps us laughing nervously from start to finish. But it's the film's visual accomplishment that's perhaps most notable--which may be a compliment or a criticism, because we're actively aware of the film's amazing cinematography; it calls attention to itself. So the film looks absolutely fantastic in every way--slick, inventive and perhaps a bit too clever. And definitely worth seeing on a big screen.
themes, language, suspense, violence cert 15 18.Mar.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
run and hide send your review to Shadows... "This movie looked cool and scary. Without giving away the ending, I can say it ends as it begins - am feeling quite poetic about that comment. A (rich) divorcee and her daughter are househunting and find this real spacious townhouse in New York - and they buy it, after being advised to act quickly or it will be gone. On the first night they are visited by some intruders who expect the house to be empty - they are not supposed to move in until the following week. But they want something that is, unfortunately, in the panic room. I wondered if all the good scenes are in the trailer, as they do with some movies. But I have to say this is a good movie and I highly recommend it - there is more to it than just a scary movie." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 1.Apr.02
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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