Panic Room

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Meg (Jodie Foster) and her daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) lock themselves in the panic room of their new house when three men break in looking for a hidden fortune.

The Highs
The performances here are overall very good. I’ve seen a lot of dislike for Jared Leto’s portrayal of Junior, but I think he accomplished exactly what he was aiming for with the character. Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart are believable as mother and daughter, exhibiting a connection that didn’t require extensive screen time to establish.

The cinematography is great, as is to be expected from a Fincher film. The score is good and fits the theme and overall tone of Panic Room.

The Lows
My biggest complaint about Panic Room is that it’s just so incredibly dull. I understand the premise and the reversal of the typical invasion film, but it’s simply not interesting. Various bad ideas serve only to extend the length of the film, of which the audience will feel every excruciating minute.

The script here is often bad. Characters monologue to themselves simply for the sake of cluing the audience into what’s happening, despite the fact that everything is abundantly clear on the screen.

There is literally no character development whatsoever, which causes the viewer to not care what happens to any of them. Meg and Sarah are at least given an – albeit brief – introduction, but the three invaders don’t receive such luxuries. Sarah’s husband Stephen (Patrick Bauchau) has no purpose in the film and I question why Fincher even bothered with the character at all.

In addition to the lack of development, every character is an embodiment of a specific cliche. Raoul (Dwight Yoakam) is an unhinged psychopath. Junior is a stupid, entitled brat. Burnham (Forest Whitaker) is a goodhearted man down on his luck with a sick child. Sarah is a sick child. Meg is a protective mother.

A few scenes are just bad and probably should have been cut from the final product, the most glaring being the one with the police. It is poorly written, poorly acted, boring, and completely out of place tonally and realistically. Again, I can’t really comprehend what Fincher was thinking here. The final scene with Meg and Sarah happily looking for a new home should have also been cut, as it unrealistically depicts them carrying on with life as though nothing had happened.

Final Thoughts
Panic Room is a dull film with a bland premise and generic characters that will leave the audience devoid of any meaningful feeling, which completely undermines the purpose of watching a film in the first place.

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