David Fincher is skating on thin ice. Two of his movies are excellent, those two being Fight Club and Se7en. That other one he did which no one really wants to talk about is The Game. A 50/50 movie. Half fun, half crap. His latest, Panic Room is pure shit. Putting into words how disappointed I am with Panic Room is going to be difficult. The only positive thing I have to say about it, is that I got The Award Winning PornographerÂ to pay for my ticket. I don’t like watching movies in theaters thatÂ much because I like to yell at the screen when stupid shit annoys me. Panic Room is nothing but stupid shit.
This whole movie just goes to show that without a doubt the mostÂ important part of a movie is the script. Fuck actors, directors,Â producers, etc. If you don’t have a story to tell, you don’t have jack. Â In Panic RoomÂ there is a room built into a house which is impenetrable. You hide inÂ there when the four horsemen of the apocalypse show up – i.e. to panic. Â It’s got thick steel walls and tons of concrete, it’s own air supply,Â power, telephone, toilet – all sorts of shit. The panic room alsoÂ sports a wall of video cameras that show the interior of the houseÂ along with a phone on a separate line. Oh, and there is a safe hiddenÂ in the floor with money in it.
Jodie Foster plays Meg Altman,Â a recently divorced mom with her super smart and super diabeticÂ daughter (Kristen Stewart) Sarah. Except that Sarah has as much bodyÂ fat as my pinky, which means she has type 1 diabetes, not onsetÂ childhood diabetes, which means that hypoglycemic near-coma sheÂ conveniently slips into towards the climax is horseshit. Wait! I’veÂ given too much away. Meg is a college student at Columbia who buys aÂ 4200 square foot house on the Upper West Side.
Sorry, I just punched myself in the head for typing that last line. Oh,Â I forgot, they have the beautiful and forgivable Ann Magnuson explainÂ how rich Mr. Altman is. Actually, they make poor Ann explain everythingÂ that is going on in one of the clumsiest expository scenes in recentÂ film history. Oh wait, I forgot that Jerod Leto guy does a moreÂ ham-fisted extemporaneous speech twenty minutes laterÂ See, Meg/JodieÂ doesn’t like the house because it’s creepy. Ann Magnuson explains thatÂ is the only house available in Manhattan that is like her last placeÂ upstate. Backyard, dozens of rooms, etc. When Foster first encountersÂ the actual panic room, it is quickly explained that “everybody’s doingÂ it.” Ann baby, I still love you even though they made you yell, “Kid!Â Stop with the elevator.”
Meg and her kid move into the giganticÂ house. We see her drinking wine and being upset and placing her cellÂ phone into its charger. HINT. The very same night three guys decide toÂ break in. Fincher treats us to one of his patented pieces of gnarlyÂ camera work when he pans the camera from the top of the third floor,all the way to the bottom of the house where Burnham (Forrest Whitaker)Â is peering in the front door window. Then, Fincher over does itÂ (surprise!) by having the camera go through the hoop of a teakettle.Â Apparently, he has been going to the George Lucas School of, “If youÂ can technically do something, do it. Forget about plot, realism andÂ most of all the viewer.” Junior (Leto) is the Grandson of the “wealthyÂ eccentric” who lived in the house before. He knows there is a ton ofÂ money in the secret safe. He knows how much. He just doesn’t know theÂ combination. That’s why he brings Forrest Whitaker. He also bringsÂ along the overly mean and nasty and dumb Raoul (Dwight Yoakum) for someÂ reason.
Here is where Panic RoomÂ goes from boring to retarded. The house is supposed to be empty, butÂ Junior is such a crackhead (literally) that he doesn’t realize FosterÂ and kid have moved in. Somehow, Junior is the only relative of theÂ “wealthy eccentric’s” who knows about the money, got it? So, when theÂ three would-be robbers realize that the house is actually inhabited,Â they decide to rob it anyway. LAME!!!!! What the fuck?!? Why not justÂ go home and then come back the next day when the kid is at school andÂ Mamma Altman is working, er, I mean also at school? Because the guy whoÂ wrote Panic Room is a rich, lazy asshole. Burnham/Whittaker isÂ the good bad guy who says over and over again that he doesn’t want toÂ hurt anyone, even though he winds up hurting people. Junior convincesÂ him to go ahead and rob the joint by explaining to Whittaker thatÂ Whittaker’s character really needs the money for a custody lawsuit. Â Literally, it is the clumsiest shit in years. And this is supposed toÂ be a smart movie.
The three bad guys go to grab the girls, butÂ somehow a middle aged woman and a diabetic eleven-year-old allude allÂ three grown men and make it into the “Panic Room”. Turns out thatÂ Burnham built the room. Does he know a secret way in? No. However, heÂ does think to hook a propane tank up to a garden hose (Which he findsÂ lying around in Manhattan?) and flood the otherwise impregnable panicÂ room with gas. Which of course “backfires” on the three bumblingÂ criminals. I should add, that if the kid didn’t have diabetes, thereÂ would have been no movie because Foster and the kid could have just satÂ inside the panic room and waited for someone to show up. That is howÂ water-thin the plot is.
The most dramatic part of the movie is when Meg sneaks out of the PanicÂ Room to grab her cell phone. I’m not making this up. This is stupidÂ for the following reason. Anybody with a cell phone knows that theyÂ don’t work in rooms with foot thick steel walls which are surrounded by concrete. Cell phones don’t even work in elevators. Hell, mine isÂ supposed to be a top of the line model and it cuts out in my bedroom,Â especially when i am looking at the Hollywood sign from my window. Â Asshole writer boy (David Koepp) probably thought about this conundrumÂ for five seconds before he decided that, “Those slobs in Duluth willÂ have no idea.” So, after a daring, hair-raising, phone grabbingÂ escapade, Meg gets the cell phone back into the panic room and it getsÂ no reception. I knew that would happen twenty minutes before it did. Â Oh, because Meg hated the panic room so much, even though she boughtÂ the house, she never bothered to hook the separate panic room phone up.
Other annoying, obvious stuff besides the fact that a “panic room” is aÂ lame idea; somehow the bad guys don’t think to smash up the videoÂ cameras. This was so dumb. First of all, if someone is paranoid enoughÂ to build a “panic room”, wouldn’t they pay the extra $50 and get hiddenÂ cameras? Second, Whitaker’s character should have realized that theyÂ had better smash the cameras. Especially the one in the room next toÂ the panic room where Meg and her lame little daughter just got to sitÂ and watch what the bad guys were doing. As soon as Meg gets out of the
panic room and the bad guys get trapped in it (Yep.) she startsÂ smashing all the cameras. From twenty five minutes into the movie, IÂ kept turning to The Award Winning Pornographer and saying, “Why aren’tÂ they smashing the cameras?” Some A-hole is going to email me and say,”But one of the bad guys says, “Why didn’t we think of that?” as theyÂ watch Foster sledgehammer the cameras to bits one by one. I willÂ answer, “The bad guy only said that because there is no way to expressÂ ‘Man, the fucker who wrote this is a terrible moron’ with just a lookÂ in your eye.” And another thingÂ
Remember in Heat how De Niro and crew steal a bunch of bearer bonds? Guess what they are stealing in this movie. Remember in HeatÂ when Pacino first arrives on the crime scene and announces howÂ professional the “crew” is because they didn’t hesitate? How once theyÂ shot one witness they killed all three, because at that point it didn’tÂ matter. Guess what Yokum starts talking about. These two scenes happenÂ within seconds of each other in Panic Room. By the way, YokumÂ says this while his hand is smashed in the panic room door that earlierÂ in the movie the writer went out of his way to show us has a littleÂ laser system which makes the fast shutting door safe. And why doesn’tÂ Whitaker’s character just kill Yokum when his hand is caught in theÂ door? Whitaker would stand to gain an additional $11 million aside fromÂ the fact that he knows Yokum is going to get out and kill everybody.
At the very end, just to give the whole fucking thing away, WhitakerÂ and Yokum get out of the panic room and instead of smashing out theÂ bedroom window and going down a fire escape to freedom, the two decideÂ to creep downstairs where THEY KNOW Jodie Foster is hanging out with aÂ loaded gun. Then Foster smashes Yokum in the head with a thirty-poundÂ sledgehammer that sends him flying over a staircase banister. GuessÂ what? Not only does he live, but he gets up and kicks the crap out ofÂ everybody until Whitaker shoots him in the back. Oh, when the copsÂ finally catch Whitaker at the end, he not only loses all the money toÂ the wind, but he sticks his arms out as he were that one guy whoÂ founded that one religionÂ
Panic RoomÂ is lazy, take-no-chance filmmaking at its worst. It looks good, but whoÂ cares? The two guys you really don’t like die, the black man gets a rawÂ deal, and the smug, wealthy white family, while they got a little putÂ upon and scared, triumph in the end. Yawn, fart, fuck. The openingÂ credits dwarf the rest of the movie.
- Film, Overall – 3
- DVD Extras – Still in theaters
- Story – 0
- Acting – 5 – Would be a six if that piece of crap Leto wasn’t in it stinking up the joint.
- Direction – 4
Ruthless Reviews Special Ratings
- Number of times movie was paused to do something else: When they invent Tivo for movies in theaters I’ll be stoked.
- Number of times your friend turned to you and laughed: 4
- Number of times you found yourself enjoying the movie: Ann
Magnuson is such a babe. Also, the opening credits looked really good.
- Number of times you wished you had taken that screenwriting class: How many frames per second are there?
- Number of times the oppressive soundtrack made you reach for
your knife: I just got a new knife. Luckily for the folks in front of
me, I had lost my old one. I’m not even sure if there was music.
- Number of times you imagined the director snickering to
himself: Who knows. I think he was just too busy trying to think of
bigger and better camera tricks to notice the crap-fest that was
developing in front of him on the dailies.
- Number of times you yelled, “Go out the fucking window” loud enough so that others could hear you: 12
- Number of times anyone told you to be quiet: 0
- Number of times you thought of what a great movie Ghost Dog is: 7