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Published on June 15th, 2008 | by simeon

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Panic Room

One of the greatest concerns in our modern world is that of safety. People spend thousands of dollars on alarms, weapons, defense classes, and homes in safe areas, in an effort to obtain a sense of security for their families. Recent world events have shaken many people to their very cores, as the sense of security once enjoyed by many has been disrupted by the reality of senseless violence.

In the new film “Panic Room” audiences are introduced to Meg Altman (Jody Foster), a woman who is in the process of divorcing her wealthy, yet adulterous husband. Meg purchases a new home in New York City where she believes she can start her life over and care for her daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart). One of the unique features of their new home is that it features a panic room, a hidden chamber that allows the occupants to hide safely from any intruders to the home. During their first night in the new house, Meg is startled to see three figures moving about her home on the security monitors. Grabbing Sarah quickly, Meg heads into the panic room and seals them in.

It seems that the three intruders are looking for a safe that is located in the panic room, and had not expected anyone to be in the house for another week. The intruders are lead by Junior (Jared Leto), a tense individual who is attempting to rob the safe in an effort to collect the inheritance he believes his late grandfather owes him. Burnham, (Forest Whitaker), a security expert who is along to get around the security system and open the safe and Raoul (Dwight Yoakam), is a heavy that is brought in as little more than an afterthought by the group, who soon shows himself to be a dangerous character.
What follows is a cat and mouse game as the group tries to roust Meg and Sarah from the panic room so they can get what they want. Fearing for their safety though, Meg fights the intruders in a battle of wits and wills for their safety.

The film was directed by David Fincher who did some outstanding work with the films “Fight Club” and “Seven” but seems to be unsure of what to do in this film. His distinct visual style is evident as the look of the house, the darkness that envelops the cast, and the attention to detail are evident in every scene. What is missing is a sense of tension, Foster and Whitaker are great, but they are given little to work with aside from a stock situation of intruders in a home and without edge of your seat suspense, the film falls flat. Even when danger is present, the audience does not get as caught up in the situation as a film of this type would require. The big problem is the character of Meg, as she is far too intelligent for the intruders and she is always one step ahead of them.

She also possesses some unexplained yet outstanding practical applications of science and electronics, which she uses to thwart the bad guys. Another fact I had problems with is the history of Burnham. Junior explains to him that he needs them money, and he has to be there, and he makes mention of his family, yet we never learn of his motivation even when he starts to question what the group is doing.

The film has some entertaining moments, but there is little to make the film stand out aside from the outstanding Foster, but in the end, even that is not enough to raise this movie up from being a middle of the road suspense film.

3 stars out of 5


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