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By Herb Kane | April 17, 2002

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Shirley Klass (, David Grove (, Eleanor Ringel Gillespie (, Holly McClure (, Marshall Fine ( and James Berardinelli ( ^ * * * * (Out of 5 Stars)
The Panic Room is an intriguing movie, but after watching it – I’m beginning to wonder if a room like this is really safe.
The Panic Room is about Meg Altman (Jodi Foster) and her teenage daughter Sara (Kristen Stewart). One night at home, they flee from Burglars to hide in the panic room – protected by thick steel. Though video monitors in the room work, the phone is dead. The thieves want hidden money in the room, but Meg refuses to let them in. A cat and mouse game ensues.
Shirley Klass ( said, “The reason the mother battles them so harshly is not really clear, since they say from the get go that they just want the stash and they’ll leave.”
Please. Would you trust your daughter’s life in the hands of armed thieves? Shirley’s review of the Panic Room is one big false alarm. David Grove ( got it right: “The film constantly finds interesting approaches for the room itself, and the dynamic of Foster trying to find a way to give the burglars what they want while being sure that they really don’t want to kill her and her daughter.”
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie ( complains, “‘Panic Room’ suffers from a bad case of TMS – Too Much Stupidity…there are too many ‘why didn’t she’ moments.”
Strange. The funniest line in the film comes from a thief, Raoul (Dwight Yoakam) who said, “Why didn’t we do that?” I won’t elaborate, but it was hilarious! Panic Room doesn’t suffer from TMS. It has PMS – Pure Movie Suspense! Example: Meg leaves the room to retrieve her cell phone while burglars are nearby. Most critics agree you’ll be on the edge of your seat scared!
Holly McClure ( said, “The ‘scare factor’ works because the three men are unpredictable, cold-hearted and greedy.”
I was relieved when Junior (Jared Leto) got killed. He was almost as irritating as Gus (David Arquette), the thief character in 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001). Burnham (Forest Whitaker) was believable as the good-bad guy, but Raoul was a bit too aggressive. He refuses to turn off a propane tank pumping too much dangerous gas in the panic room. What an idiot! Marshall Fine ( concludes, “The action of that scene mostly seems like an excuse for Fincher to unleash a blue fireball in slow motion.”
Director David Fincher provides excellent camera work. Marshall Fine describes one shot: “It swoops and sweeps across the room, passing through the handle of a coffee pot, through the spindles of stairway railings, even diving straight into a lock on a door, for a unique view of a key being inserted from the other side.” I thought it was pleasing to the eye and added that extra touch of suspense.
James Berardinelli ( summed the film up best: “The suspense in Panic Room never ebbs, and that makes for a thoroughly entertaining – if somewhat exhausting – 108 minutes.”
I think it’s safe to go see the Panic Room in theaters, but if you ever decide put a real panic room in your home – make sure the phone works. ^ -CRITIC DOCTOR
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