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Thu March 28, 2002
"Panic Room" is a good "B" movie that makes you glad you don’t live in a mansion in the heart of NYC...
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
New York City has become the outpost of terror, certified from the skies on 9/11 and renewed in the "Home Alone" half-brother, "Panic Room." Being beset upon by larcenous strangers in New York has been a pervasive fear of visitors as well as brownstone owners. This film brings home that fear in a frightfully large house Jodie Foster and her daughter buy after her divorce from a wealthy financier.
Mom and daughter hide from intruders in the panic room, a bomb-shelter like fortress built for just such intrusions. Although it would seem a claustrophobic setup, director David Fincher ("Seven" and "Fight Club") moves everyone as smoothly as his careening camera up and down staircases and through partially opened doors.
The three goons have varying degrees of wit and humanity, most of which belong to Forest Whitaker, who best expresses the difficulties that come from not being committed to taking all or nothing. He has too many issues besides just robbery to distract him from the ruthlessness his partners come to so easily.
Jodie Foster is her usually intelligent agent of righteousness, a Clarice Starling with divorce and diabetic kid as baggage. Although Nicole Kidman was to have this role, Foster has the edge on tough, and Kidman had her scare-fest in "The Others" a year ago.
"Panic Room" is a good "B" movie that makes you glad you don’t live in a mansion in the heart of NYC. It also subtly comments on the dangers almost always accompanying young divorcees and their children. The film has updated the "Home Alone" family situation and added some terrifying effects, so just enjoy an old-fashioned scary-mansion story. In this film, there is nothing new to learn about women, children, and homes besieged by modern terrorists.
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time" and vice-chairs the board of The Film Council of Greater Columbus.