is a nifty little thriller. I may have to buy the DVD just for the opening titles (which will thrill any lover of NY). Compared to Fight Club
, it may be Fincher-lite, but it's good, solid entertainment. There have been several movies about people trapped in a house with intruders -- The Desperate Hours
and its remake without the "the," Woman in a Cage
. I've never been a fan of any of them -- it strikes me as a premise with inherent dramatic limitations, there's only so much that can happen in a confined space in a confined period of time. I probably would not have seen Panic Room
had it not been for Fincher. But Panic Room
more than held my interest. The characters (which include the house itself) and set-up are efficiently established and the action plays out at a nice pace. And, of course, the movie contains a lot of visual interest. There are two points that I disagree with mcbain about. First, I thought Whitaker's character was as well estabished as any other character and his motivation was clear. I didn't require more. I get irritated at thrillers with too much exposition, a mistake Fincher avoided. Second, while not completely subversive, the movie is not played entirely straight. The dialogue is frequently funny, intentionally so, and creates a nice counterpoint to the tension. The characters are deliberately archetypal and exaggerated with subversive intent. Leto overacts (but effectively so), Yoakam's cap provides unnecessary visual punctuation to his character and Whitaker is too nice and his motives too noble. SPOILER
When Whitaker does a quick calculation of how much money is in the safe, factoring in inheiritance tax, Leto responds, "So you're an expert on inheiritance tax, too." Finch (and/or the writer) are clearly making fun of a genre convention: the crafty villain or hero whose knowledge base is far too broad for his or her character. If that's not subverting the genre, I don't know what is.