Sunday, November 16, 2003

Panic Room
Review by Sombrero Grande

911 doesn’t put people on hold. When 911 puts Jodie Foster on hold in Panic Room, I went from generally disliking the movie to hating it. If the screenwriter is going to go that far out of the realm of reality to stack the cards against his protagonists, then you just know there’s going to be an equally implausible way of getting them out further down the line.

I found the first few titles of the opening credits interesting—giant letters standing like integral elements of the cityscape they mingle with—but soon the novelty became tiresome and I eagerly awaited the arrival of “Directed by David Fincher” as the signal of their end. In fact, I felt that way about most of the movie. Remember the cool CGI “fly-through” shots in the Fincher-directed Fight Club, like the opening shot that starts with the synapses in Edward Norton’s brain and ends with Brad Pitt’s gun in his mouth? Well, they were cool in Fight Club because they weren’t done to death like in Panic Room, where just about every other shot is one of these. What’s going on in the other room? Let’s fly the camera through the wall and take a look, shall we? What’s going on one floor below? Let’s fly the camera through the floor. How’s the gas that’s being pumped into the panic room affecting things in there? Gee, how about we fly through a CGI model of the hose and vent to check it out?

This movie was like an unfunny Home Alone, full of less-than-intelligent burglars getting beat up in ways even less imaginative than anything John Hughes could cook up. I didn’t like or care for any of the characters in this movie, not even the heroines, from the foul-mouthed daughter to her uninteresting mother. The burglars were annoying more than anything else and the occasional attempts at comic relief were so unfunny that I found myself preferring the moments of sloppy, forced tension. Dwight Yoakam gives, at times, a sincerely scary portrayal of a stereotype “wild card” burglar, that is, before he descends into a buffoonish “Clint Howard meets Jason Voorhees” Terminator-like horror film cliché. Yoakam’s character gets smacked in the face with a sledgehammer and falls off a balcony, only to start climbing back up the stairs for more. Right, and 911 puts people on hold. The only thing that even comes close to a “redeeming value” in this movie is the fact that Jodie Foster wears a loose shirt and bends over towards the camera from time to time.

Damn, this movie sucked.


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