Panic Room [2002]

An effective exercise in "confined cinema," Panic Room is a finely crafted thriller that ultimately transcends the thinness of its premise. David Koepp's screenplay is basically Wait Until Dark on steroids, so director David Fincher (Seven, The Game) compensates with elaborate CGI-assisted camera moves, jazzing up his visuals while a relocated New York divorcée (Jodie Foster) and her daughter (Kristen Stewart) fight for their lives against a trio of tenacious burglars (Jared Leto, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam) in their new Manhattan townhouse. They're safe in a customized, impenetrable "panic room," but the burglars want what's in the room's safe, so mother and daughter (and Koepp and Fincher) must find clever ways to turn the tables and persevere. Suspense and intelligence are admirably maintained, with Foster (who replaced the then-injured Nicole Kidman) riffing on her Silence of the Lambs resourcefulness. It's not as viscerally satisfying as Fincher's previous thrillers, but Panic Room definitely holds your attention. --Jeff Shannon

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