David Fincher's Panic Room may be the most intense two hours I've ever seen on screen. The expression "edge of your seat" gets thrown around a lot, but in this case, it's an understatement.
To think I almost didn't see this movie, because the premise didn't appeal to me at all. In fact, it repelled me. But knowing Fincher's work, I felt compelled. Hearing the great word of mouth, my curiosity rose. Reading all the very positive reviews sealed it. I had to see it.
Jodie Foster stars as a newly separated woman who moves into a huge townhouse with her daughter. The house has a "panic room", a safe room to use in case of emergency, complete with supplies, reinforced steel walls, a separate phone line from the rest of the house, and by golly, even a toilet.
Hollywood being very opportunistic, a gang of burglars breaks in on the very first night!
So Jodie and her daughter, played by a very impressive newcomer, Kristen Stewart, have to find a way to elude the criminals.
Simple enough premise, but the way Fincher tells the story is amazing. I should also point out that David Koepp wrote a fantastic screenplay. Considering I'm supposed to be a "struggling writer", I rarely mention writers in my reviews. Go figure. But in Panic Room we actually get to learn a lot about the burglars as well as the "good guys", and I appreciated the insight as it made everything all the more interesting.
The acting in Panic Room is absolutely perfect. The afore mentioned Foster and Stewart are perfect as the mother - daughter team. I know that originally Nicole Kidman was supposed to play the mother, but an injury kept her out of the movie. Hindsight being what it is and all, I think Foster is the better choice. Kidman is extremely talented, and obviously beautiful, but somehow Foster seems more believable for the role. She does a really great job and the chemistry between her and Stewart as her spunky daughter is awesome.
Forest Whitaker is a very good actor. We get to learn about his character through the well written story, but also through Whitaker's incredible performance. Subtle, yet expressive.
Jared Leto previously worked with Fincher in the in your face FIGHT CLUB. Here he plays one of the burglars and he does a great job. I hated the hair though. But really, his performance is great.
Dwight Yoakam…I've only seen him in one other movie, Sling Blade, where he was not a nice person. Here, well, I don't like to give away anything about the movies I review, but I'll just say that his performance is absolutely chilling.
It was a surprise to see Patrick Bauchau as Foster's estranged husband. I hadn't seen him since he played the sympathetic Sydney on TV's The Pretender. His is a small role, but he does a nice job as well.
So there you have it. A well written and directed film, with amazing performances.
Nitpickers may have some issues with plot holes and such, but this is a movie. It doesn't have to be absolutely realistic. But it does have to entertain, and Panic Room definitely does that.