Newly divorced Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her young diabetic daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) are forced to flee to the panic room of their newly rented New York home when three men force their way into the house on a mission to recover millions of dollars in a safe hidden – where else – in the same high security, purpose built safe haven called the panic room.

A conventional but very stylish thriller.

When you think of the director David Fincher you think of Seven, of Fight Club. You think of confrontational cinema. His latest is Panic Room which stars Jodie Foster as a single mother.

Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) is recently divorced from a philandering pharmaceuticals magnate. She and her daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) find a three-storey brownstone terrace which seems to fit the bill. We gather the settlement was generous. The terrace used to belong to an eccentric millionaire who had a panic room installed in the house. This is a totally secure room where you can hide if your home is invaded. It has television monitors, a separate phone line, and the means to survive for quite some time. On the first night in their new home Meg and Sarah are forced to take refuge there when three men break in to find the millions of dollars they know are hidden there. They're Burnham (Forest Whitaker), Junior (Jared Leto) and a balaclava-clad heavy (Dwight Yoakam).

This is a conventional but very stylish thriller from Fincher. He's a director who's really in control of his medium. The camera, helped on occasions by CGI, swoops and glides its way around the massive apartment using the logistics of the place and the technology as ingredients to enhance tension. There's a bit of humour, some nice performances especially from Jodie Foster who replaced Nicole Kidman who retired from the film because of injury after three weeks of shooting. But it's Fincher's film from a screenplay by David Koepp. There's not a lot of character development, not a heap of plot but it has sweaty-palm tension.


Watch 'Panic Room'

Saturday 30 January, 8:30pm on SBS World Movies (streaming after at SBS On Demand)

USA, 2002
Genre: Thriller
Language: English
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Jared Leto, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam

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