Panic Room (2002): ****
Directed by David Fincher
Panic Room is nearly a perfect movie. It reminded me a lot of a classic Hitchcock movie, with its
small number of characters, all of which are extraordinarily strong, a single location, evil
intentions and a suprising amount of organic humor. I laughed out loud several times during this
movie, which is somethign that I didn't expect. Although perhaps I should have; Fincher's Fight
Club I thought was absolutely hilarious through and through.
The screenplay is absolutely waterproof. There is not a thing in the movie that comes out of
left field. You get this many characters, you get this exact, specific environment, you get
these props, and then it's up to the characters to use what exists to their advantage.
The script is like a chess game. One side tries a gambit (propane), the other side must use
its resources to counter. Then another gambit (phone), and another counter. Sometimes the
gambits are ill-conceived and fail on their own, only to open the doorway to try yet another
set of moves. Things are wrong with both sides from the start, like playing with an incomplete
chess set and trying to make due nonetheless.
There is also a good automatic threat device in that the daughter in the Panic Room has an
unidentified illness (although if you've ever known anyone who actually has this illness in
real life, you'll know what it is almost instantly), and her medicine is not stuck in the Panic
Room with them.
The only problem I had with the movie was the last minute or so. Don't get me wrong, the
screenplay resolved itself brilliantly and without holes. It just doesn't have a very good
resolution (one of my main complaints about movies). It would have been a perfect resolution
except for a strange choice that Fincher makes with the last shot of the climax. It seems like
Jodie Foster's character made a sudden realization about one of the other characters in the movie
and was going to act on it. But, no, we just cut to the end and it is never mentioned again. It
had me and my movie-going friends completely mistified. We could not tell what Fincher wanted
us to think, which is a very rare blunder with Fincher.
But still, this is one botched minute out of two brilliant, flawless hours. I can't really complain.
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