"I spent the last 12 years of my life building rooms like this specifically to keep out people like us"
Considering David Fincher's stellar reputation with thrillers, I expected significantly more from Panic Room: a film that turned out to be preposterous, derisorily corny thriller yarn that represents the low point of Fincher's career. (The film is even worse than Alien 3 - now that is saying something!) Fincher is a talented director who brings intense thrills and remarkable camera angles; however the script is inexpressibly appalling.
Recently divorced woman Meg Altman (Foster) is now a single mother living with daughter Sarah (Stewart). Searching for a new home, they decide to purchase an expansive old-fashioned house in New York. To the naked eye it seems like a straightforward house, but it includes the latest state-of-the-art security feature designed for paranoid rich people: a panic room. Panic rooms are impregnable secure rooms intended for refuge during a home invasion. They are made from concrete and steel, therefore impossible to break into. Meg and Sarah become imprisoned in their panic room when a trio of thieves enter the house on the search for a lost fortune. Naturally, said lost fortune is actually inside the panic room which is now impossible to break into. Now it's time for the screenwriter to consult the book of film clichés: screenwriter David Koepp arms this film with every convention and cliché one could possibly comprehend.
The script of Panic Room was inspired by the increasing trend of paranoid people who install "safe houses" for extra security. This film is certainly no commercial for panic rooms; in fact it's quite the opposite. It's a good thing panic rooms aren't as flawed in real life! It seems screenwriter Koepp has no problem with moving from one predictable cliché to the next in quick succession. The whole package has been installed here - stupid thieves with one being reluctant, sick child who needs medical attention outside of the confined panic room, overprotective mother who never does one intelligent thing, etc.
I have no idea how such a dreadful screenplay attracted such a magnificent cast. Jodie Foster's performance is intense and involving. A versatile actress of this stature should never appear in a movie like this. Interestingly enough, Foster voluntarily stepped onto the production when Nicole Kidman had to pull out. Forest Whitaker is another of the generation's finest actors tragically dragged into this mess. Whitaker looks out of place, albeit determined. The rest of the cast are impressive, especially young Kristen Stewart.
Whether director David Fincher is your cup of tea or not, you cannot deny that the man has a good eye for detail. Throughout the movie we have elegant cinematography and meticulously detailed shots executed with excellent special effects. The first half of the movie is suspenseful and effective...as the second half commences you will realise how dreadful the script truly is. There is no intensity anymore and the character development appears to be for nothing. As the film kept dragging on I had hoped that the climax would be the film's saving grace. Instead the climax is the poorest part of the movie.
While I was watching Panic Room I wished that I had a panic room of my own - so I could escape this film! Fincher's stylish directing and the top-notch performances from the cast are the only positive aspects of this film. The script is just too horrible for words. This is your typical fluffy Hollywood thriller: convoluted, silly, stupid, filled with plot holes and...did I mention stupid?