Panic Room (2002) / Thriller-Drama

MPAA Rated: R for violence and language
Running Time: 112 min.

Cast: Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, Kristen Stewart, Dwight Yoakam, Jared Leto
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay: David Koepp
Review published April 3, 2002

Panic Room would seem like a can't miss thriller, especially given the talent involved and their respective track records.  Jodie Foster (Contact) starred in one of the best of the nineties (Silence of the Lambs), director Fincher directed a few suspenser gems (Se7en, The Game, Fight Club), and screenwriter David Koepp has been involved with some thrill-rides of his own (Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible).  Put all three forces together and what do you get?  A very intriguing, snappy thriller that just misses delivering all that it promises.

Foster plays a divorced mother who, along with her rambunctious daughter (Stewart, Cold Creek Manor), decide to get back at the cheating husband by renting a very expensive NYC apartment, complete with "Panic Room".  This room is a safe haven from intruders, seemingly impervious, decked out with it's own phone line, surveillance cameras and food for weeks.  Lo and behold, a trio of baddies come in to steal millions of dollars said to be kept in such a room, when the Foster holes herself up in the room.  Unwilling to back out now, it's cat and mouse between the mother/daughter combo vs. the hoodlums for who controls the room.

Credit Fincher for some sumptuous virtuoso camerawork, and a classic look to an old-fashioned style thriller, similar to the Bogart/Wyler classic, The Desperate Hours, but more modern and high-tech.  However, there just wasn't enough meat on this barebones plot to make a truly satisfying meal, and while the set-up is virtually flawless, once trouble ensues, the plotting sags and soon develops into predictable fare.  Until then, there is just enough juice for the film to eke out a mild recommendation for lovers of unique thrillers with good performances.  Foster performs as admirably as you'd expect, Whitaker (Battlefield Earth) as well, and country fans may enjoy an almost unrecognizable Dwight Yoakam (Sling Blade) as the baddest baddie of the three.  Worth a rental if you're in the mood of a well-made suspense flick..

 Qwipster's rating::

2002 Vince Leo