Saturday, April 06, 2002

Panic Room (IMDB) (Netflix)
"Home Alone" for grown-ups, but not for laughs, aside from a few tension-breakers. The trailer lays it out--newly divorced mom and daughter move into a Manhattan brownstone that has the one thing Bob Vila hasn't shown us how to build, a castle keep of sorts to protect against home invasions. Unfortunately, the bad guys want something that's in the panic room, which creates a standoff of nearly Middle Eastern proportions.

I don't ordinarily go for women-in-danger flicks, because of their exploitive, B-movie undertones, but Jody Foster provides enough gravitas to overcome that hang-up, and director David Fincher (Fight Club, The Game, Se7en) brings some style and restraint to the genre. On the other hand, the writing's not quite as fresh and challenging as his other efforts. Forrest Whitaker is the criminal-with-a-moral-compass, and country music star Dwight Yoakam is the menacing wild card who demonstrates why he always wears a cowboy hat when he performs. Certainly not a must-see, but then again, very few new releases reaching that level right now.