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Panic Room (2002) Columbia Pictures
1 hr. 51 mins.
Starring: Jodie Foster, Jared Leto, and Forest Whitaker.
Directed by: David Fincher


Panic Room

Rating:

  E-MAIL GIANCARLO DE LISI

Photo: Columbia Pictures


It is not common to discover a Director in Hollywood who can consistently deliver a good film. Such is the case with the experimental and exceptional David Fincher. While he has created only a handful of films such as ‘Fight Club’, ‘The Game’ and ‘Seven’, this is even more of a reason why such attention must be drawn to this ambitious and multi-faceted Director.

In his latest film, ‘Panic Room’, Fincher creates a superbly suspenseful and eerie piece of entertainment all the while breaking new ground in terms of technological achievement. Jodie Foster stars as a newly divorced single mother who upon her first night in her spacious new Manhattan apartment battles against intruders. Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam portray these unorganized criminals who will stop at nothing to capture hidden money locked away in the apartment. Within this spacious apartment, there is a secret room that resembles something of a bomb shelter. Contained in the room is a bank of security monitors, extra food and supplies and no possible way in. That is until the trio of intruders break into the home and force Foster’s character and her daughter to lock themselves into this claustrophobic room.

David Koepp’s script is full of pulse-pounding moments and will certainly keep many at the edge of their seats. But as a discerning viewer will note, it is quite difficult to script a film that takes place entirely within a vast apartment. And so does ‘Panic Room’ retain a sense of excitement even though its locations are limited? Indeed. The script is tight and has even a sly dose of humor to relieve the tension some audience member’s might experience throughout this taut film.

This film can be known to be a great film by observing its’ many elements that make it a good time at the movies. First and foremost, the opening credits say a lot about the film’s artistic sense. The opening title sequence has the credits of the film displayed as though they are Marquis on high-rise buildings. While the sequence is short, it is succinct and creates a sense of excitement among the anxious crowd. Furthermore, Cinematographer Conrad L. Hall along with Darius Khondji plaster this film with rich ambience in a dark undertone that reflects a sense of urgency with every passing frame. Fincher and his team collaborate on an extraordinary level, as the film is a luscious example of poetic beauty conveyed through excitement, thrills and astonishing cinematography.

In addition,, as mentioned earlier, the film breaks new ground in terms of 3-d composition. If one has seen the film and does not recall these scenes - that is because they were so well done that they are almost naked to the human eye. Fincher embarks on a journey of discovery as he explores the wonder of Digital Animation within ‘Panic Room’. One such example is how Fincher uses his camera to track through the whole house from moving the camera through the kitchen in one single take, or bringing the camera through floors and walls in order to maintain one single, fluid sequence of beauty within his film.

And even though the film is dark, moody and very chilling at times, it is all done with a sense of class and achievement that catapults this film onto another level. If one has seen the film, they may recall this class conveyed on screen with the first intruder sequence. Fincher terrorizes the audience and will never make anyone completely secure about their home’s personal safety when he films the intruder sequence.

With one single take, Fincher travels the rampant apartment and makes the camera track from the front door, to the back door, through walls and through floors all in one take in what proves to be the film’s most technologically memorable moment. And while this review seems to be centered upon the technological achievements of the film, that is because it is a wonder to watch. Yet, in terms of a well-built and solid suspense film, it is well worth the panic to see the film.

Click here to comment on this review or post your own thoughts.

Giancarlo De Lisi
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