Foster Vs Forest
Panic Room
Review by Ross Anthony

Unfortunately, I missed the first seven or eight minutes of the production, so this cannot be a legitimate review. With that in mind ... here's what I did see.

Foster and child sleep for the first night in a big old wood home. A large sum of money resides in the Panic Room (an impenetrable stronghold with video security). Three thieves enter that home at night ... and you guessed it, Foster and child end up locked in the Panic Room while the bad guys try to come up with a scheme to get them to open the door.

Actually, despite the fact that I'm not much on thrillers ... I love this plot. Two innocents (one with a blood-sugar problem) locked in what is practically a huge safe, three meanies securing the rest of the house ... just in case the two should get out and call the police. However, Foster fans will be underwhelmed with the small role Foster has in this film. Granted, I missed the opening scenes, but after that ... it's all "what do we do?" "Calm down!" and yes, some decent action on her part. Actually, the dramatic anchor of the film is Forest Whitaker as the bad guy that "doesn't hurt people." However, when the smartest guy of three thugs decides to leave early on, but stays after some punk guy prods him; then doesn't take the opportunity to bail when things get really complicated ... audiences may lose a little investment in the film.

Additionally, the whole no-cops thing takes some extra forgiving to believe. I had a suggestion earlier on ... cell-phone on a stick (enough said.) In fact, I have a few other bones with this film, but don't wish to spoil.

Still, Foster is fine (I love her scream of helplessness smack in the middle), Whitiker wonderful (as always) and Kristen Stewart as the Foster child (sorry for the pun) performs marvelously. But the best thing about this film: a long roving camera shot that "hovers" around the home just as Foster falls to sleep. The camera floats through walls, ceilings, banisters, keyholes, coffee-cup handles. Of course, it was done with CGI help, but the result is very fine and very effective. You truly get a feeling for this house as the silent member of the cast. Also, though I doubt fire behaves with such good manners, one "explosive" scene plays hot on screen. Countering that, a slow-mo effect doesn't quite cut it. (Three guys talking in slow-mo?) Nor, is this a film that offers much in the way of dialogue.

  • Panic Room. Copyright © 2002. Rated R.
  • Starring Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, Jared Leto, Patrick Bauchau.
  • Directed by David Fincher.
  • Screenplay by David Koepp.
  • DP: Conrad W. Hall, Darius Khondji.
  • Produced by Gavin Polone, Judy Hofflund, David Koepp, Cean Chaffin At Columbia/Hofflund/Polone/Indelible.

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:00:21 PDT