Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2002. Columbia Pictures Corporation, Hofflund/Polone, Indelible Pictures. Screenplay by David Koepp. Cinematography by Conrad W. Hall, Darius Khondji. Produced by Cean Chaffin, Judy Hofflund, David Koepp, Gavin Polone. Music by Howard Shore. Production Design by Arthur Max. Costume Design by Michael Kaplan. Film Editing by James Haygood, Angus Wall. Online Film Critics Awards 2002.
Fans who were disappointed by the filmed adaptation of the novel Sliver will find much recompense in this taut Ira Levinesque thriller. Jodie Foster (at her most assured and compelling) plays a newly divorced mother (to Kristen Stewart) who buys a new Manhattan home based on its spacious rooms, many floors and a nifty bedroom feature: a completely secure, foolproof panic room, designed in case of emergencies like burglaries. Foster dismisses the room as a useless novelty, the product of the corrupted mind of the paranoid millionaire who owned the home before she did. Unfortunately, her sentiments obviously fall on deaf karma, since on the very night of her moving in a trio of robbers (Jared Leto, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam) break in to her house thinking the place still empty. Now, mother and daughter are trapped in a well-equipped but tiny little space with no way of escape, hoping that the gentlemen will just take what they want and leave. What they want turns out to be in that very panic room, and just because it’s impossible to enter it doesn’t mean the bad guys won’t try. Tight as all hell, the film is about as scary as any you’ll ever see, directed with incredible precision by crafty David Fincher. Gorgeously shot by both Conrad L. Hall and Darius Khondji (who was fired during the shoot for having a level of perfectionism that made the film run way over schedule, which in turn was getting in the way of pregnant Foster’s growing belly), the film was written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Death Becomes Her). The lead role was originally to be played by Nicole Kidman, who thanks to an injury she sustained while filming Moulin Rouge was unable to fulfill her commitment to this film, prompting Foster to drop out of her duties as president of the 2002 Cannes Film Festival Jury at last minute’s notice and take over the role (Liv Ullmann later took Foster’s position at Cannes and Foster made a small presentation during the Cannes Award ceremonies). Kidman’s voice makes a tiny cameo as the voice of Foster’s ex-husband’s new wife.