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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Panic Room (2002)



Reviews and Comments

David Fincher was at the top of his game when he made Panic Room, a dark, relentlessly intense thriller with stand-out performances and spectacular cinematography. It stars Jodie Foster as the single mother of a diabetic daughter who moves into a house with a panic room, a room constructed of steel and equipped with the necessities of life that you can lock yourself in and be absolutely safe from anybody. Enter the badguys, who lay siege. It's more complicated than that, but I don't want to give away all the twists. It's even a gross simplification to call the badguys just "the badguys" -- all three are distinct individuals with distinct goals and their alliance is uneasy.

It's wonderful how exhaustively Panic Room explores its ideas. Again, I don't want to give it all away, but suffice it to say that the rules of the game change more often than you might think, as the characters use their wits to win advantages over the others. Yes, I said "wits." So many thrillers are made up of idiots and chance turns of fate, but this one doesn't grant its characters anything they don't earn by keeping one step ahead of everybody else, including us.