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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Panic Room (2002)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: David Fincher

Starring:
Jodie Foster/Meg
Kristen Stewart/Sarah
Forrest Whitaker/Burnham
Jared Leto/Junior
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A recently divorced mother (Foster) and her young daughter (Stewart) move into a new home. One of the rooms in the house is quite particular; it’s called a “panic room" and is basically a safe room with a thick steel door, camera monitors galore, a ventilation system and food. When three hoods break into their pad at night, the female duo head for the panic room to hide out. A deadly game of chicks and dudes follows. But who’s the cat and who’s the mouse?
THE LOWDOWN
I’m a huge David Fincher fan, both "Seven" and "Fight Club" are in my fav movies of all-time list. I was really looking forward to this bad girl and I came out of the theatre mostly a happy jerk. Sure, I had a few obstacles to surmount in order for me to enjoy the flick. I sat in the first row (my neck still hurts) due to the theatre being jam-packed; I had an obnoxious moron talking next to me the whole time (how’s the jaw, a-hole?) and a massive pee attack struck me halfway through (I toughed it out till the end though). But even with all those mishaps, I still got submerged into this picture.

"Panic Room" is a simple film, with a simple premise but a ballsy execution. It’s basically a battle of wits between 2 females and 3 males with their limited environment being used as a tool or a weapon in the fight. The screenplay milks the setting for all that it's worth and some of the edgy shenanigans that went down took me aback (gasoline wave anyone?). I felt like I was witnessing an engaging tug of war, with both sides at one point or another, gaining the upper hand. What a fun watch! From a character standpoint, its fairly cliché (the bad guy, the dumb bad guy and the good bad guy) but the competent actors elevate the roles to a higher plane. My fav baddie was definitely Jared Leto’s (Junior) dread-sporting “tough guy”. The man owns every scene that he’s in and had me laughing out loud a few times. Yeah, you heard me this movie is surprisingly pretty funny too! Apart from Leto’s antics, the film also offers us some situational humor and chuckles courtesy of the sharp dialogue.

In the tension department, this one had me biting my big toe fervently (I know, gross). Fincher unapologetically pulls us into the somber world of the film and barely lets us go, or allows us to breathe. I felt mucho involved through the whole ordeal. Directing-wise, I can’t praise Fincher enough for taking everything a 100 steps further. You would think that a tale that mostly takes place in one location would eventually be boring to look at…dead wrong…not in this man’s hands. I actually picked up a little bit of Argento-type style here (the key hole shots) with Fincher’s camera having no boundaries as to where it can go. Cracks in the wall, around kitchen appliances, through floors and ceilings. It’s all over the place! Tag that with dark atmosphere and creative lighting, and you get quite a visual trip.

I do have some minor complaints about the movie though. I don’t know if it's because I’ve seen way too many films, but I saw most of the plot turns coming. The chain of events doesn’t really go beyond what we’ve already seen in all the other “trapped in one setting” thriller scenarios. I often wished that the script had matched Fincher’s visual ambition on more occasions. My last pet peeve is that the last few frames didn’t fully satisfy me. Not only did the ending feel too abrupt, but also the fate of one character left me wanting more (even though it’s clear what happened to him/her).

But in the end, "Panic Room" entertained me big-time with its dark ambiance, daring camera moves, enjoyable characters, relentless pace, slick action set pieces and its circumstantial sense of humor. Yes, apart from a couple of "out there" sequences, the script doesn’t real step out of the thriller mold we all know so well, but the execution definitely does and it makes up for the script’s less original moments. Fincher makes it all happen, baby. Will you enter the Panic Room?
GORE
The film isn’t too gory but it does sport some violence. We get a bullet hit to the head, bloody beatings and some sledgehammer action.
ACTING
Jodie Foster (Meg) is on the ball as always and gives us yet another strong performance. For the first 20 minutes, I was convinced that Kristen Stewart (Sarah) was a boy, I was wrong. She does well though and is surprisingly very focused at such a young age. Hasn’t Forrest Whitaker (Burnham) played this part before? Either way, he comes through as the burglar with the heart of gold. Jared Leto (Junior) stole very scene that he was in with his enthusiastic and off-the-wall performance. I loved him and yes, the dreads worked gangbusters! Dwight Yoakam (Raoul) does the heartless killer thang to a T.
T & A
Jodi Foster wears a nice tight black top that shows off her assets and the ladies will be saddened to learn that hunky Jared Leto keeps his clothes on.
DIRECTING
Fincher is a visual genius. Talk about innovative shots! He’s my kind of director. I loved his gnarly shot compositions, his brilliant use of silence, his guts to try different things on a technical level and his genius way of handling the suspense. Fincher’s eye and energy is the main reason this film works so well.
SOUNDTRACK
The score by Howard Shore adds so much to the images. It definitely ups the dread-filled mood and the suspense. Great stuff!
BOTTOM LINE
The characters and the unraveling of events in "Panic Room" are nothing really original. But Fincher’s visual panache and his seamless ability to generate a thick layer of tension out of every scene, made this one hit the mark. I can’t stress how stylish and efficient this baby is! If you dig Fincher’s work and your thrillers tight, "Panic Room" will make you cum on more than one pump. One more thing, Fincher has it rain in this one too. Yeah! Nobody shoots rain like this duder! I love that guy!
BULL'S EYE
Nicole Kidman was initially cast to play the role of Meg Altman (Foster), but had to drop out due to a shaky knee injury she got during the "Moulin Rouge" shoot.
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