Have you noticed lately how when you go to the movies on a Friday or Saturday that there's always one or two couples who have brought their baby with them? I'm not talking about little kids. I'm talking about babies. I know it's hard to find baby-sitters but really. How many babies can sleep through two hours of loud explosions and music without waking up and starting to cry? Answer: none. So the poor mother has to miss half the movie or else subject the audience to a wailing baby. What's with this?
Ok, I'm finished ranting. There is an excellent film that tells the story of three men who terrorize a woman trapped in a house while they try to reclaim some valuable property. That film is called Wait Until Dark. Panic Room tries to build some of the tension and excitement of Wait Until Dark but it ends up being more like Home Alone. The plot concerns a woman (Jodie Foster) newly separated from her husband (Patrick Bauchau) who buys a huge house in Greenwich Village and moves in with her young daughter (Kristen Stewart). The unreality of this film begins with the size of the house which would hold about 20 families in the real New York city. Anyway, the house has a Panic Room. This is a room built like a bomb shelter with a steel door that is meant to protect the occupants of the house from a home invasion. Well, Foster and her daughter have moved in for about 5 minutes when, guess what, three guys break in. The three guys (Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam) have some inside info that the deceased former owner hid millions of dollars in the house, not just in the house, but in the Panic Room itself. This is where is gets like Home Alone or maybe the The Three Stooges in New York. The trio is so incompetent that while they are discussing what to do, Foster and her daughter get into the Panic Room and close the door. This is meant to be exciting, the door closing just as the bad guys are about to get there and maybe it is the first time. But the scene is repeated several times. That is because Foster can sneak out while the three stooges are discussing stuff and not watching the door.
Besides the fact that the three guys are morons, there's some problems with the Panic Room. This is a room that is supposed to be able to resist all efforts to break in, yet within about 5 minutes, the bad guys have broken into its ventilation system and are cutting off the air. I won't go on in case it would spoil something but you get the idea. Actually, the movie gets a bit boring because for long stretches, Foster and her daughter are in the Panic Room panicking and the boys are outside arguing about what to do about it. This could work if there was any tension at all about how this is going to turn out. But this is Jodie Foster and she's not going to be beaten by three idiots. So all we can do is wait for the inevitable ending. This all a bit disappointing since the director, David Fincher (Alien 3, Seven, Fight Club), has done some good stuff but all he provides here is some cool camerawork.
Forest Whitaker is a very good
actor and shouldn't be forced to play parts like this. He does what
he can with it. Foster is always great and she is great here too
but she can't save this movie. Panic Room consists mostly
of people standing around and talking, but unfortunately, the script isn't
very good. There's a couple of good lines like when Whitaker refers
to his annoying co-burglar as Joe
Pesci but they are few and far between. There is also a fair
bit of graphic violence. The best thing about Panic Room is
the opening credits. They are really cool. They are all done as if
they are signs hanging on buildings in New York. But I'm not sure
this makes it worth paying to see it. If you haven't seen Wait
Until Dark, go rent it. Audrey Hepburn (the trapped woman), Alan
Arkin, Richard Crenna and Jack Weston (three smart guys) are amazing and
you will jump out of your seat.