Jodie Foster plays a recent divorcee who moves into a large Manhattan brownstone with her daughter (Kristen Stewart, way pre-Twilight); they’ve barely had a chance to unpack more than one box before their home is invaded by a bunch of petty thieves (Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam) looking for some treasure hidden somewhere inside the house, which forces them to take refuge inside the mansion’s ultra-secure “panic room.” Director David Fincher turns what he himself described as a B-level popcorn flick into an A-list thriller, filled to the breaking point with sometimes unbearable tension (the slow-motion scene where Foster makes a run for her cell phone is a doozy) and featuring terrific performances by the entire cast (and a particularly psychotic one by Yoakam). Fincher’s technical bravado is also on full display here; the story is told from the point of view of the house itself as the camera twists and turns up, down and around staircases, through doors and walls and sometimes even through the handle of the coffee machine. Foster, who was supposed to play the role that eventually went to Sean Penn in Fincher’s The Game, was a last-minute replacement for Nicole Kidman, who has a brief cameo as the voice of Foster’s ex-husband’s girlfriend; Stewart was also a replacement for Hayden Panettiere, whom Fincher apparently described as “irritating.” A fantastically entertaining and sometimes terrifying New York story that set the bar for every home invasion film to come after it — and not one has been able to top it so far.
New On Netflix: Panic Room
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