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Panic Room

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Panic Room

Starring: Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker
Director: David Fincher
Rated: R
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: March 2002
Genre: Suspense

*Also starring: Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam, Patrick Bauchau, Ian Buchanan, Ann Magnuson, Kristen Stewart

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

Director David Fincher specializes in visually stylish thrillers ("Seven," "Fight Club"), so it's not surprising that the opening sequence - Manhattan buildings with title credits superimposed - is stunning and the ominous music immediately sets the mood. After that, it's a simple story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Determined to relocate from Greenwich, Connecticut, after a devastating divorce, Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) buys an immense Upper West Side "townstone" (townhouse-brownstone) owned by a recently deceased, eccentric and reclusive millionaire whose heirs have been unable to find his fortune. The rainy night she moves in with her adolescent, diabetic daughter (Kristen Stewart), there's a break-in - and they're forced to flee for protection to "the panic room," a safe, fortified, hidden chamber with its own power and phone lines and security-camera monitors. They're terrorized by a stereotypical trio of thieves (peaceable Forest Whitaker, maniacal Jared Leto, dimwitted Dwight Yoakam) who run rampage through the house - but what the burglars are after is hidden in the high-tech sanctuary where the mother and daughter have taken refuge. "We can't get in," the intruders realize. "We have to get them to come out." But all the participants make such lame decisions along the way that the edgy impact is diluted. While Jodie Foster's resourceful fight for survival is convincing, David Koepp's script is predictable and David Fincher's direction is manipulative. So it's left to the two cinematographers, Conrad W. Hall and Darius Khondji, along with composer Howard Shore, to heighten the nerve-fraying tension. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Panic Room" is a dark, suspenseful 6 but it never reaches the gripping genre standard set by Alfred Hitchcock.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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