Jodie Foster can forget about claiming an Oscar for her performance in "Panic Room," but her latest vehicle almost certainly will sweeten her bank account.
The thriller opened nationwide last weekend at the top of the box office heap, reaping a sturdy $30 million in ticket sales during a holiday opening. It likely will reach the box office stratosphere before everything is said and done.
For good reasons. "Panic Room" is a classy, first-rate thriller that features a fast-paced cat-and-mouse game between a couple of interesting characters in a unique setting.
Foster plays recently divorced single mother Meg Altman who moves into an upscale New York brownstone with daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart).
The apartment comes equipped with every conceivable luxury, including a well-equipped, high-tech "panic room" where its inhabitants can take refuge from any danger.
On their first night in their new digs, the mother-daughter team comes under assault from a group of thugs led by reluctant house-robber Burnham (Whitaker).
His gang, which includes Junior (Jared Leto) and Raoul (singer-actor Dwight Yoakam), believes the apartment's previous owner left behind a fortune in cash. The problem for Meg and Sarah is that the cash is stored inside the panic room, where the two have sought safety from their attackers.
Meg is smart, courageous and imbibed with a winner's sense of survival, while Burnham comes equipped with intimate knowledge of how the panic room works. He builds them in his day job.
Like master chess players, Meg and Burnham square off in a classic game of chicken.
In director David Fincher's hands, "Panic Room" is a thrill-a-minute feast of visual excitement, which enhances the gamesmanship unfolding between the two protagonists.
Best of all, there's a big surprise in store before movie's end. It's a winning formula, and the audience is the apparent beneficiary.
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