David Fincher's fifth film, released March 29, 2002. After the pseudo-philosophical dystopian sprawl of Fight Club, Fincher tackled a much simpler conventional suspense piece starring Jodie Foster as a woman defending herself and her child against home invaders. Except for a mind-bending opening credits sequence in which giant names hover ominously over the city, the action is tightly focused entirely within her Manhattan brownstone.

Foster exhibits her trademark personality traits: She is strong, smart, vulnerable yet confident, and eminently watchable. Forest Whitaker has worn, realistic integrity as a burglar who's just doing it for his kids. Jared Leto continues to display range never indicated by his work on My So-Called Life as the crack-smoking motormouth who thinks he's the leader of the gang. And Dwight Yoakam is unrecognizable as the most frightening of the three, with even more casual menace and dry wit than he showed in Sling Blade. Newcomer Kristen Stewart gives an excellent understated performance as Foster's withdrawn diabetic preteen. And those are basically all the characters.

The title refers to a secret steel chamber within the apartment designed in case of just such an emergency. Foster and her daughter can watch the thieves on video monitors and survive for days on rations, but the thieves need to draw them out, because the millions they're after are inside. Fincher's signature murky wash of greens, blacks and blues helps to create a mood of tense claustrophobia. The script and editing are excitingly taut, and Fincher's imagination never dulls as he repeatedly uses computer technology to expand how a film camera can move (as with the "photogrammetry" sequences in Fight Club). All in all, it's an involving, impeccably crafted (and notably apolitical) thriller.

With one implausible flaw: When you call 911, you DO NOT get put on hold. Not in New York City.

In my opinion. A highly enjoyable film.

Walter mentions that the film has one "implausible flaw". I noticed several things that struck me as odd in the film. I may be wrong about these things, and by all means feel free to correct me.

Firstly, in the panic room there are three large crates filled with various survival equipment. Surely amongst this stuff there would be something high in sugar content. Barley sugars or something. Aren't there always chocalate bars and the like in that sort of thing? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the diabetic caught in hostage style situation is nowhere near as prolific in real life as it is in fiction.

Who is Raul? Why is he invited along? Other than to provide a menacing, truly evil protagonist to counter the flawed heart of gold protagonist of Forrest Whittakers Burnham.

I'm sure there probably is a rational explanation for this one, but how is the panic room supported? When Raul bashes through the floor below we see a shot of the solid steel underbelly sitting on top several timber rafters. Is this enough? I was half expecting it to fall on top of them.

Anyway the last thing i would like to say is that maybe in New York you DO NOT get put on hold on 911 (are you sure it's NEVER happened Walter?) but in other parts of the world you certainly do. When my families house caught fire several years ago, my mother dialed the emergency number (000 here in Australia) she was asked what service she required then waited on hold for five minutes as smoke billowed into the room she was in. Eventually she had to abandon the phone and consequently the house burnt to the ground.

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