Panic Room 2002 ★★★★

I think most people don't give this film the credit it deserves. The production design is a state-of-the-art masterpiece.

Looking through the background material for this film, it's impossible not to be impressed. For instance, the previsualization process was at the time the most thorough in movie history. Previz can best be described as an animated storyboard, and has never been used to this extent. In fact, with a few omissions in the opening and the end of the film, a complete animated version of the film exists.

The sets were constructed in their entirety at a Los Angeles soundstage («There is no house»). The way these sets are constructed are so meticulously planned that Fincher wore out an entire crew in the making of this film, ending up sacking amongst others cinematographer Darius Khondji (Se7en). Khondji couldn't live with Fincher's dictatorial behaviour and was replaced by Conrad W. Hall. This is not hard to understand when you take a look at the camera tests. Countless shots of the same scenes were done, with different actors in different clothings, using different filters and several light and light sources. This of course to ensure the «perfect look».

It all became almost a totally insane project. There is a 12 minute clip on the discs showing the planning of the Safe sequence. A Safe expert, much like Forest Whitaker's character in the film, explains to Fincher and his crew how such a safe would be opened. Every tiny little detail in the movie are exactly like it would be done in real life. In fact it's an open description to the world on how to break into one. While things like this were taking place, the actors went through just as extensive costume and make-up tests. For the Gas barrel scene, Jared Leto had to be set on fire numerous times, and the technicians spent a full week trying to figure out the perfect way to simulate the explosion.

As we all know, a movie can't be enjoyed solely based on its technical merits. It also has to offer a story, at least that counts in my book. And this isn't a bad film in that department either. It's rather exciting and with generally good acting. It contains two of my favorite actors, Dwight Yoakam and Forest Whitaker. As usual they are both excellent. Jodie Foster is always reliable, and Kristen Stewart has yet to become annoying. If I disregard one or two things I consider more or less unlikely, and why shouldn't I in such a film, it is still highly recommended.

Favourite scene: The way the camera moves from Jodie Foster's bed and out in the hall, through the railing, downstairs to the first floor and makes almost a complete tour through the house. Perfection.

3 Comments

  • Nice one Jacob! Nails and heads and stuff.

  • I watched this when it came out years ago; and for some reason(s) was not that impressed.(I see I still gave it 3 stars) Your excellent review has inspired me to give it another look. :)
    Luckily I do own the DVD.
    PS: This was my lowest ranking Fincher film. (He is one of my favorite directors).

  • Thanks guys! Yeah Bill, I think it deserves a rewatch, let us know how it turns out.

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