Panic Room

I spent the last 12 years of my life building rooms like this specifically to keep out people like us.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Panic Room doesn't throw out the stereotypes for suspense thrillers, but it doesn't cop out either. What makes this ho-hum story into a good thriller is that all of the characters act as you would expect them to act. They ask the same questions we do, they act in a realistic manner given the extraordinary situations. We wouldn't expect an amature thief and crack addict to cut the main phone lines instead of disconnect the kitchen phone. We understand why the new homeowner didn't bother to get around to connecting all the security features on their first night. Every plot point makes sense.

Panic Room is a simple movie. We are given the rules by which this game is to be played. We are given the players who will dance for us, and soon the game begins. Fincher's impossible camera shots clearly define the battleground - a three floor townhouse - and every detail is opened up to us, even the specifics of a safe cracking. Forest Whitaker once again does a wonderful job playing the chessmaster, a man who knows his own work better than the owner. The right elements of humor help define the characters more than just fill up time with comic relief.

The DVD of Panic Room is a "Superbit" release, claiming to use up to 25% more of the DVD for the less-compressed video instead of loading it with special features. I can't say I was overly impressed with the video. It was good, but far from the "high definition" that was advertised. I would have expected at least a second disc with cut scenes, interviews, etc, and would have been willing to sacrifice the "Superbit" version for a good directors commentary. The DVD does include a 2.35 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture and both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtracks. It is a very high quality version of the film, but not up to par with the DVD of Seven or Fight Club, both reference quality DVDs in quality and content.

Panic Room isn't the monumental work that Seven or Fight Club were. It is, however, a very entertaining film that doesn't treat us like morons. It is a suspense film that properly lays out all the rules and stick to them throughout the entirety. It has some powerful moments between its characters and treats the material, the robbery of a townhouse, with a sincerity above the Hollywood glitz we are used to. The DVD isn't perfect but it does justice to the film. This one is worth having in a collection.