Panic Room

David Fincher

Panic RoomDavid Fincher
As a follow-up to the controversy courting, but brilliant, Fight Club, David Fincher's Panic Room failed to live up the director's previous work. Taken out of that unavoidable context years later, Panic Room is a smart, linear, incredibly under-lit thriller with some unbelievable shots that demonstrate dazzling technical ability and Fincher's demanding, meticulous nature. Panic Room pits a mother/daughter (with the always strong Jodie Foster taking over the mom role after Nicole Kidman dropped out due to injury) against a cadre of thieves who invade their just purchased NYC brownstone as the fragmented family moves in. Holed up in a "panic room" (basically a giant safe for people), built for the previous owner, they seem safe enough, but what the thieves (Forrest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam and Jared Leto) want is unfortunately in the room. What follows is a cat and mouse game with a number of role reversals and twists as the thieves try to break in and the family tries to get out/call for help. The original Superbit edition of Panic Room was devoid of extras, but this three-disc set attempts to correct that problem, to the point of excess. On top of a solo Fincher commentary (which is good, full of info and analysis), we get two more (one by the cast and one by the writer, and guest). We're also given two extra discs chock full of featurettes, focusing mainly on the technical aspects lighting, choice of film stock, the extensive previsualisations (basically animated storyboards), the creation of shots, CGI work, the building of the house, which had to have removable walls, etc., etc. The extensive featurettes are interesting, and a testament to Fincher's painstaking nature of documentation, but if you're not a camera operator or (under)lighting technician, it's a bit much. Panic Room pales in comparison to Seven or Fight Club, lacking either's grand scale, subtext or social commentary, but shows Fincher near the top of his game, technically and stylistically, if not story-wise. (Columbia/Sony)
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