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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.78%
Worth A Look37.02%
Average: 23.2%
Pretty Bad: 14.36%
Total Crap: 6.63%

14 reviews, 97 user ratings

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Panic Room
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by DrChumley

"A pretty good idea, but very poorly executed"
3 stars

What do you do with a thriller that isn't thrilling? A drama that isn't dramatic? This film tried. It wanted so badly to be a great film. It just failed miserably.

Jodie Foster has always been one of my favorite actors. I like nearly every movie in which I have seen her…with the notable exception of Nell (“Tays inna win’!”) I have been especially impressed with her skill behind the camera in her quietly intense work Little Man Tate, and her pull-your-hair-out holiday-gone-horribly-wrong film, Home for the Holidays. Foster has established herself as a powerhouse in the entertainment industry—one with a seemingly innate sense of quality in art. After seeing her most recent offering however, I must as a simple question: “What the HELL were you thinking, Jodie?”

Foster plays Meg Altman, a recently divorced mother of a daughter with a serious illness, played with a wooden monotone by Kristen Stewart (whose asexual haircut and clothing makes her look suspiciously like Macaulay Culkin on a bender.) Meg and Kristen have recently purchased a large home in Manhattan to be close to Meg’s ex-husband (Patrick Bauchau). The large “townstone” (not quite a townhouse, not quite a brownstone) is a creepy, barren, cavernous, high-ceilinged mini-mansion with four floors, an elevator, and, off the master bedroom, a concrete and steel room complete with security monitors, a phone line, and emergency rations—a panic room.

During Meg and Kristen’s first night in their new digs, the house is broken into by three largely inept criminals: the spoiled, druggie grandson of the house’s previous owner, Junior (Jared Leto), bus-driver turned hit man, Raoul (Dwight Yoakam), and big-hearted security system expert with an alimony problem, Burnham (Forest Whitaker.) They break into what they assume is an empty house to recover a hidden treasure left by Junior’s wealthy grandfather. Awakened by the less-than-stealthy approach of the would-be burglars, Meg wakes Kristen and they both retreat to the panic room. In an expected twist of fate, the very thing for which the criminals are looking happens to be hidden in the panic room itself. The criminals spend the remainder of the film trying to break into the indestructible panic room or devising ways to get Meg and Kristen out.

Penned by writer David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible), Panic Room suffers most from its horrendous script. With what promised to be a very inventive idea, Koepp resorts to many of the same worn-out thriller clichés we’ve been rolling our eyes at for years. With a few minor exceptions, Koepp’s script goes exactly where we want it to, and we can see it coming a mile off. Worst, perhaps, is Koepps ludicrous dialogue—some of which caused me to laugh out loud, resulting in some pretty nasty looks being thrown my direction. In one pseudo-tense moment, Raoul points a gun directly at Burnham and says, “When I do this, people don’t lie!”

Director David Fincher, best known for action/thrillers Se7en and Fight Club, also largely misses the mark with Panic Room. After one of the coolest opening credit sequences I’ve seen in a long time, I was expecting to be led along the story by Fincher’s trademark driving energy. However, rather than re-creating the giddy high-tension feeling of his previous endeavors, Fincher lays back and relies on the monotonous gray-blue palette of cinematographers Conrad W. Hall and Darius Khondji. The result is a somewhat bland, plodding thriller that largely fails to thrill.

The one thing that saves this film from becoming “bad movie night” fodder is the work of the leading actors. Foster does a wonderful job despite the lack of substance in the role. Leto, Yoakam, and Whitaker each draw every possible ounce of quality out of their laughable lines, and make most of them bearable, if not believable. Even the minor characters were impressive—with the notable exception of Ann Magnuson as the real estate agent. (She has officially been nominated into my “Character Who Most Needs to be Bitch Slapped” category—other nominees: Mariah Carey, Entire Cast of The Brady Bunch Movie)

Also of note is Howard Shore’s intense, monorhythmic score which manages to provide what little tension the film contains, while at the same time avoids drawing attention to itself. (Are you listening, Mr. Williams???)

Overall, Panic Room failed to live up to its name as a thriller. A pacing reminiscent of a John Deere tractor on a freeway, and script with dialogue that belongs in a Freddie Prinze, Jr. movie, turned what promised to be an exciting film into a mildly entertaining but mediocre and forgettable one.

It it worth the time: Not really. If you're bored, or have a girlfriend who is easily scared, go for it. Otherwise, save yourself $8 and watch Buffy on TV

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originally posted: 05/16/02 06:00:38
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User Comments

3/13/17 morris campbell tense well directed 4 stars
1/04/09 Samantha Pruitt interesting idea, acting is good, they seem to have though of everything! 4 stars
8/13/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 5 stars
3/01/08 Ivana Mann Okay,we get it.Jodie Foster is one bad mutha...shut your mouth.Hollywood, idea! 1 stars
2/12/08 Mike Hunt 110 minute gimmick movie. Time will not be kind to this fincher wreck. 1 stars
1/23/08 Double M A typical Hollywood thriller + Fincher's style. OK, but for Fincher, it's too disappointing 3 stars
1/15/07 Gloria Dornin I loved it, made me want to get a Panic room!! 4 stars
12/03/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 4 stars
10/09/06 MP Bartley Jodie Foster, Woman of Steel! 4 stars
4/05/06 Dk Tense taught thriller that may be one of this centuries finest 5 stars
8/12/05 ES Dwight steals the show here, he's a really good actor= superb movie experience 5 stars
6/19/05 Nicole A disappoint after Se7en & Fight Club - I expected better 3 stars
4/04/05 indrid cold An odd idea for a movie. Not great but definitely "worth a look." 4 stars
2/26/05 Alice Colwell boring 3 stars
11/17/04 John Bale Smartly directed thriller with plenty of shock moments. 4 stars
9/19/04 R.W. Welch Neatly plotted cat & mouse game has some weak spots but entertains. 4 stars
8/16/04 Ana Marie It was kinda creepy... And Kristen acted well at that age. 5 stars
7/08/04 JME Not much to work with, but everyone involved pulls through - minus Koepp 4 stars
6/14/04 MyGreenBed Fincher has that great glossy-yet-arty look to his films, however this one has nothing but. 2 stars
2/04/04 Charles Tatum Unbelievable premise, arrogant direction, but great acting and pacing 4 stars
1/30/04 LIAM JACKSON i like the way raoul changes from a silent background observer to a truly menacing psycho. 5 stars
12/09/03 Samuel A very realistic film, strong performances!! 3 stars
10/18/03 Psiseeker let's keep this simple "110% TERRIBLE" If u like it, u r retarded 1 stars
8/17/03 Lorraine I love Jodie Foster but she chose the wrong movie here - rubbish 2 stars
8/13/03 It's just me I love this movie. It's really entertaining. Jodie Foster is an amazing actress. 5 stars
5/15/03 joshx42 Bad ending, good film. 4 stars
4/17/03 Nicole I expected much better 3 stars
4/15/03 reptilesni I was actually on the very edge of my seat. Some plot holes but who cares? 5 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby Creatively bankrupt and lethargically rendered. Foster, though, is terrific. 1 stars
2/14/03 Andrew Carden Horrifying Film With Twisted Screenplay and Eerie Direction. 5 stars
2/02/03 paul Great suspense, disappointing ending. RUN FOREST RUN!! 4 stars
1/30/03 Ken Very tense, well-directed thriller. Best opening credits ever. 4 stars
1/14/03 Mitsaso If it wasn't for the stupid ending... 4 stars
11/29/02 Monster W. Kung STEVE, Fight Club is Fincher's best easily. Whoever thinks different is a retard, like you. 2 stars
11/17/02 PsiSeeker My ending. Forest gets $, millionairess, brat, 2 tards get offed! :-) 2 stars
11/09/02 Phil M. Aficionado Awesone, until the cliche ending. Imagination please. Great camera work. 4 stars
10/23/02 palaboy101 A fairly big part of the story centered on a product placement for NOKIA 3 stars
10/02/02 John McNew A terrific, tense and fun, edge-of-your-seat thriller! Kudos to Foster and Kristen Stewart! 4 stars
9/23/02 .Choadushouse. Beautiful direction. And great performances. Definatly worth seeing. Fincher is the man. 4 stars
7/15/02 Roy Smith Blah - made by the guy that did Fight Club? Really? You sure? 3 stars
6/23/02 David A. Not as bad as Ocean's 11, but still a boring "science of being a crook" thing. Yawn. 3 stars
6/07/02 crush I loved it 5 stars
5/27/02 Nicole Big let down if you have seen other Fincher flicks 3 stars
5/24/02 Kristen very disappointing 3 stars
5/19/02 Chowie very good, but i felt as if they just eneded the movie coz they didnt know what to put next 4 stars
5/17/02 viking well made, but not Fincher's best 4 stars
5/15/02 Stud This movie was non-stop suspenseful!! 5 stars
5/13/02 Amy I expected more from a Jodie Foster movie. 3 stars
4/29/02 dave macdougall compared to every other Fincher movie.... this one sucks 2 stars
4/25/02 Nick2k hmm...don't expect a 'surprise ending'. we need more good movies with whitaker. 4 stars
4/22/02 Monster W. Kung Very disappointing, considering this guy directed Fight Club. 3 stars
4/16/02 Lauren anyone who rates this above "average" has to get out more! 3 stars
4/15/02 Lachlan bland and shallow- the best part is the titles at the satrt of the film. the script is diab 2 stars
4/13/02 Thor-Leo A fairly satisfying ride 4 stars
4/13/02 oldgoatmon not a jodie foster movie, why did she do it? Predictible and in retrospect little movement 2 stars
4/13/02 Punky Brewster If youve never seen a thriller before in your life, you might consider this to be "Awesome" 3 stars
4/12/02 CJ one of the few movies I'd like to see again 5 stars
4/12/02 Matthew Smith one of the year's best thrillers that will have you jumping out of your seat . 5 stars
4/11/02 margie yntema awesome 5 stars
4/10/02 Janine Lay not great, too hokey, diabetic daughter pushed the limits being stuck in the room like that 3 stars
4/09/02 spikeme502 Jodie Foster has more balls than most working actors 5 stars
4/08/02 bullit17 Fincher does it again. Hand-wringing, nailbting suspense and intensity 5 stars
4/08/02 Nicole Not a typical Fincher film and not really suspenseful if you have seen any of the previews. 3 stars
4/08/02 stoolie-bird generic fast food for the brain...not worth your time or money 3 stars
4/08/02 Koitus Compared to the rest of the CRAP that the industry is putting out these days -- 4-stars! 4 stars
4/07/02 FrayLo Sure, may be corny at times, but still a good suspenseful movie. 4 stars
4/06/02 Jessi Lacking in Plot 3 stars
4/05/02 Rapper S. Delight This one's for Forest Whitaker & Jodie Foster, while Leto & Yoakam are over-the-top fun 5 stars
4/05/02 Nicholas Schoonover Most worthless movie EVER! Bought the script from a 6th grader who wrote it in 20 mins. 1 stars
4/05/02 Obi Wan Hello Claris . . .I loved your new movie that Kidman turned down! Good 4 you!!! 5 stars
4/04/02 Dave MacDougall cookie cutter bad guys..... 2 stars
4/04/02 Spanky Typical non-human-acting characters. Why such a big gap between reality tv & fictional? 3 stars
4/04/02 dannyevans good movie, but the propane would have settled on the floor thus killing them in the fire 4 stars
4/03/02 orpy entertaining to a point, stupid ending 3 stars
4/03/02 Butterbean I saw plots like this on Lifetime TV. Have your date pay for you to see this one. 3 stars
4/02/02 lauren mccreight nothing you haven't seen before.... 3 stars
4/01/02 Dr Laura Is A Bitch (Doo dah, doo dah...) Engaging, gripping, slightly disturbing. Slight constant-crisis syndrome. Get the video. 4 stars
4/01/02 spaceworm Way better than the other stuff that opened today - a classic for its weekend. 4 stars
4/01/02 KMG This movie was outstanding...but where was Lecter? 5 stars
4/01/02 CoffeeVixen jesus christ, i came close to shitting my pants over the suspense! this movie rocks! 5 stars
4/01/02 Todd Beamer Best thriller in quite some times...and it actually delivers!! Bravo!! 5 stars
4/01/02 Ziggy Stardust Stylistically perfect. Just a fun flick to see. Not as scary as one would hope. 5 stars
4/01/02 skafunkrastapunk Amazing film making. Every shot was there for a reason. Be sure to watch the titles. cool 5 stars
3/31/02 Superdave Grandtastic 5 stars
3/31/02 Olivia Sands Whatever happened to Jodie Foster? 1 stars
3/31/02 malcolm great camera work, but there's never any doubt that Foster and the kid will be OK 3 stars
3/31/02 Chuck and Fran Great movie! Would have been better with more exposition and character development. 4 stars
3/31/02 Film Dude The best movie of the year so far - but it isn't hard to beat what else I saw this year. 5 stars
3/31/02 Film Guy Finally a GOOD movie. Panic Room Delivers 4 stars
3/31/02 ajayrockrock when people "count to 3" why don't they ever kill anyone? Great Movie!!! 5 stars
3/31/02 Gary I saw this with the movieman, and I find it just as good as he did, an exciting movie 4 stars
3/31/02 Michael ***** Tihs movie was the best movie of 2002 so far(Jodie Foster kicked ass) 5 stars
3/30/02 Zero182 Top-notch thriller. The screenplay/script is superb and the tension is gripping. 5 stars
3/30/02 frank a technical masterpiece. 4 stars
3/30/02 BO Despite all the femminazi psychobabble about 'dominant sex', this was a good movie. 4 stars
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  29-Mar-2002 (R)
  DVD: 30-Mar-2004



Directed by
  David Fincher

Written by
  David Koepp

  Jodie Foster
  Kristen Stewart
  Forest Whitaker
  Jared Leto
  Dwight Yoakum
  Ann Magnuson

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