Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto
young woman and her daughter are besieged by crooks searching for hidden
Fincher's tightly-wound 2002 thriller was something of a disappointment to
his growing legion of fans, but judged by anyone else's standards Panic
Room is an accomplished, slick, nerve-wrenching movie that's
certain to become a minor classic.
film stars Jodie Foster as Meg Altman, a recently-divorced young woman who
moves into a spacious New York "townstone" apartment with her 12
year-old daughter, Sarah, as a result of the divorce from her wealthy
husband. Almost immediately their home is invaded by three crooks,
searching for a fortune that they believe was hidden by the previous
occupant. Meg and Sarah take refuge in a specially-constructed impregnable
chamber (the Panic Room of the title), not knowing that what the crooks
are looking for is inside the room with them!
film offers little that's new, and a basic, well-worn plot, but Fincher's
directorial flourishes; a nice character arc that takes Foster's character
from deflated divorcee to Die Hard-style action hero; and excellent
performances from all concerned give the film weight and resonance.
disc serves the film extremely well. It's a movie that must have presented
the film's cinematographers, Conrad W. Hall (stepping up a rung after
second unit responsibility on films like Sleepy Hollow and Alien
Resurrection) and Darius Khondji (In Dreams
and Fincher's Director of Photography on Se7en) with a few
problems. Most of the film takes place in low-light conditions, giving
much of the film a sickly lemon tint, and this has been captured
remarkably well on the disc, which has a sharp 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer.
The Region 1 disc is touted as a Superbit release, but has the same
features as the Region 2 version, and there's no reason to think that the
NTSC version will be any better than the UK's "ordinary" PAL
film's audio mix is quite excellent. Fincher has a remarkable skill for
creating ambience. A scene at the beginning of Se7en, where
Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) prepares for his working day as noise
from adjacent flats filters through the walls, for example, is as
memorable a soundscape as any I've heard. Panic Room has typically
elaborate sound design (credited to Fincher regular Ren Klyce), but it
rarely draws attention to itself, choosing instead, like Howard Shore's
churning score, to remain a brooding background presence. The disc offers
a choice of audio formats: a 5.1 Dolby Digital track (at 448kbps) and a
dts track (at 754kbps). The dts mix has a spaciousness that's less obvious
on the Dolby track, making it the preferable choice, but both
presentations are first class.
expecting the lavish extras afforded to Se7en and Fight Club
will have to be patient, for the only bonus materials on offer here are
elaborate animated menus (very nice, but excessive, considering that the
disc is practically bereft of content), a teaser trailer (which
includes material either specially-shot, or not in the finished film) and
a handful of filmographies. It's highly likely that a two-disc Special
Edition disc will be forthcoming, given Columbia's annoying "buy it
at least twice" marketing strategy.