Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Panic Room Review

It has been a while since the last time I laid eyes on Panic Room, and as a Fincher enthusiast I have always deemed it an effective yet lesser piece of his filmography. While this remains true, it is more a compliment to the rest of his work than an insult to this film, because Panic Room is a stylish and flat out entertaining exercise in the importance of utilizing setting and cinematography to build tension.

On the surface, Panic Room really is nothing special, a home invasion film that plays by some predictable rules like using a child to tug at the heartstrings and raise the stakes, a film that features flat and uninspired archetype villain characters, starting with the professional who wants to complete the mission yet somewhere down inside he still has a soul. Next is the young hot head, the reckless part of the team team that fights any and every urge to feel compassion because of the potential financial windfall waiting for them, and then finally we have the quiet wild card who seems the most composed yet eventually proves to be the maniac of the bunch.

In the hands of a different filmmaker, Panic Room may have been an easily ignored, after-thought of a film, but Fincher manages to elevate the work with some delicious camera work as we swoop from room to room, floor to floor of this majestic home. The cold and dour cinematography sets the mood for the film along with the appropriate stormy weather taking place outside. Thanks to the man in charge and the excellent team surrounding him, along with great casting to fill these otherwise uninteresting characters, Panic Room does so much right that I can ignore all the ways it falls short. This was probably my fifth viewing of the film and yet my pulse was racing  during certain scenes, as if I was in danger myself despite already knowing how it all plays out.

With a film like The Social Network (in my opinion, his true masterpiece), Fincher was able to add his style to an incredible, smart script by Sorkin, along with the stunning score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and it resulted in a completed work that I deem to be flawless. While Panic Room isn't flawless, the talent involved elevates it above its flaws, and I find the film to be immensely enjoyable.


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