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Movie Info




March 29, 2002


112 minutes


Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, Jared Leto, and Kristen Stewart


David Fincher


David Koepp


Columbia Pictures/Sony




Please Note

In providing movie reviews on our site, is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.


Panic Room

By Movieguide Magazine - In "Panic Room," recently-divorced Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her emotionally-distant daughter, Sarah (Kristen Stewart), move into a spacious New York home with a mysterious closet-shelter called a panic room. Installed by a wealthy and paranoid former occupant, the panic room is considered "the best place to be in the worst case scenario." It contains video monitors to view all the rooms in the house, emergency supplies, a separate ventilation system and phone line, and, best of all, an impenetrable steel door that opens and closes very quickly.

As a storm rages during their first nights stay, three burglars break in to the new home believing it to be empty. One of them is a security expert and family man (Forest Whitaker), sort of a burglar with a conscience. The youngest is a greedy insider who coordinated the job (Jared Leto). The other turns out to be a dangerous psychopath who will not be crossed (Dwight Yoakam). They seek a fortune hidden by the previous owner, and, after much arguing, decide to finish their job even though Meg and Sarah are found sleeping. The men are convinced that millions await them, and, therefore, the mother and daughter will have to be killed.

Meg wakes up to use the bathroom, however, and catches a glimpse of the men on one of her security monitors. As the men are seen walking up the stairs, Meg frantically races to wake her daughter and make their way to the safety of the panic room. A heart-pounding chase scene ensues, and the storys tension continues to constrict right up until the end of the movie.

Meg and Sarah quickly learn that the burglars are after something inside the panic room and find the new outside phone line has not yet been activated. Refusing to leave, the burglars begin securing the homes exits so that they will have time and privacy to eventually break into the stronghold. To save her daughters life, Meg must make several attempts to slip out of the shelter while the burglars argue and work in other parts of the house. Meanwhile, her daughter faces other terrifying threats in the form of convulsions and a possible diabetic coma.

"Panic Room" is an intense and intelligent thriller with many clever twists and surprises. It is frightfully scary and filled with violence and rough language. The story feels stretched so tight that the plot always seems just about to break, but the steel frame of the superb cast and director (David Fincher of the successful nail-biter, "The Game") holds it together while the tension is ratcheted up to staggering levels. The storys very believable characters keep the audience locked in their seats, until they feel as trapped as Meg and Sarah are.

David Fichers direction is, at times, both excellent and annoying. Camera pans and impossible movements seem to be the latest rage in the new age of computer graphics. Still, he manages to show realistic situations and characters while making tremendous use of one old house. Regrettably, the story ends abruptly and a little awkwardly. To be fair, it may be difficult to avoid an anti-climactic ending after nearly two hours of emotion-filled tension on the screen.

Meg and Sarah, initially distant, angry and self-absorbed, are brought closer through this experience and their relationship is restored. The ex-husband, while clearly self-centered for abandoning them, shows a willingness to sacrifice his life for their safety. Justice is portrayed in a very positive light and the characters wrestle with doing good instead of evil. Best of all, New Yorks police force is shown in a very positive light.

Regrettably, many moral and redemptive elements of bravery, courage and sacrifice do not seem to outweigh the rough R-rated language laced throughout the movie. "Panic Room" is a seductive steel trap intent on flooding the audience's mind with foul language and powerful violent images. Thus, there is no real safety or sanctuary inside this "Panic Room."

Please address your comments to:

Amy Pascal, Chairman
Columbia Pictures
John Calley, Chairman/CEO
Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
Phone: (310) 244-4000
Fax: (310) 244-2626
Web Page:

The previous reviews are a selected sample of informative reviews from MOVIEGUIDE: A FAMILY GUIDE TO MOVIES AND ENTERTAINMENT, a syndicated feature of Good News Communications, Inc. To subscribe to MOVIEGUIDE, which includes a complete set of at least 10 reviews of the latest movies as well as many informative articles, please visit their Web site at, or write or call:

P.O. Box 190010
Atlanta, GA 31119
(800) 899-6684

DISCLAIMER: "The publications that carry MOVIEGUIDE and the organizations that distribute MOVIEGUIDE are not responsible for these reviews, nor is MOVIEGUIDE responsible for the opinions and positions of those publications and organizations."

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