April 6, 2002 – A "panic room" is a secure cubicle, a hidden room built into a house with steel walls, independent air and water supplies — a sort of an urban bomb shelter.
Of course, that's not any old house — it's an accommodation in fancy homes. In the case of "Panic Room," it's in a Manhattan brownstone which divorcee Meg (Jodie Foster) has just bought and moved into with her teen-age daughter, Sarah (Kirsten Stewart). Scarcely are they in their new digs when they have to make a quick retreat to the room when a trio of burglars breaks in.
Roger Ebert, in the Chicago Sun Times, describes the film's story line as a game of chess between two "chess masters" — Meg as the queen and the burglar Burnham (Forest Whitaker) as the king. Backing up Burnham are two pawns, or sidekicks — Junior (Jared Leto), who has brought along a gun, defying Burnham's instructions, and Raoul (Dwight Yoakum). The three are in search of the millions they believe the previous owner left in the house hidden guess where?
Fans of Whitaker (and there are many — from "The Crying Game" and his incredible portrayal of Charlie Parker in "Bird") will relish his psychological interplay with the lavishly talented Foster. Burnham knows a great deal about the room; he designs them when he's not breaking into them.
Ebert says both sides know the chess rules: The winner simply will be the better strategist. "The players are operating out of their own resources," he says, "and that makes them the players, not the pawns." To satisfy demands for a thriller, he says, the movie is about as good as you're likely to get.
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of the Atlanta Journal Constitution isn't that easily pleased; she rarely is, it seems. She calls the movie "Home Alone" without the laughter and criticizes the plot for not being more complex.
The film is directed by David Fincher, who brought us some grisly moments in "Seven" and the brutal "Fight Club."It is rated R for violence and language and is almost two hours long.
It is playing at Sunny Isle Theaters.
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