This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such. A review of the unedited version would likely be harsher.
It’s time to look at a thriller movie from not too long ago. This title is certainly a lot more modern than some of the other films that I’ve been watching as of late. It’s the kind of film that revolves around a lot of strategy as most of the adventure takes place in one location. That can work as long as the writing is strong enough. It’s solid enough to keep you engaged for the moment, but plot convenience makes the situation a lot tougher for the two heroines than it needs to be.
Meg is trying to find a new place to live. She gets a pretty good deal on a rather large house and the place even comes fully equipped with a panic room in case of emergencies. The panic room has a phone that is connected to a backup power generator and it is supposed to be impossible to break into. Meg’s daughter, Sarah doesn’t mind the house all that much so it is decided that they will stay there. Unfortunately, the house comes under attack by three robbers who want the secret treasure that is hidden somewhere inside. They have guns and aren’t afraid to use them so it looks like Meg is going to have to try and outlast them or get a hold of one of the guns.
I’ll give the film some props for actually making the Panic Room good. A lot of times, the villains will just break in without any real effort and then that’s game over. Here, the Panic Room stands strong even after a lot of attacks and that’s really how it should be. If you paid good money to have a safe that is strong and durable, robbers shouldn’t be able to break in. The flip side of this is that the film needs some way for the villains to get to the heroes anyway since we need to have some tension.
Well, the plot device in this case is Meg. She is diabetic and needs shots every once in a while. This means that they have to leave the panic room at some point even if they don’t want too. It was fairly annoying because what are the odds right? It doesn’t help that the phone in the panic room wasn’t connected or that there were no emergency rations inside yet. The villains don’t know most of this either, but they are persistent and stick around even after trying a lot of ideas. There were some pretty clever ones like sending in fumes through the vents, but the fire counter was just as good.
Meg’s a decent main heroine. There’s nothing much to dislike about her, but the character just isn’t all that interesting. At least she doesn’t hesitate to use the gun when necessary. Sarah was a little more on the annoying side to be honest. Kids rarely turn into likable characters in the movies so it is not too surprising. She’s not super annoying or anything, but she is a little slow on the uptake at times and also panics quite a lot.
I can’t say that any of the villains were all that good either. We have Junior, who is the brains of the operation. He believes that he is in charge, but there isn’t a whole lot of honor among thieves. You can probably imagine that things don’t go too well for him after the other two find out that he has been lying about the loot the entire time. There’s also Raoul, who joins the group for this case. The other two haven’t worked with him before though and he is more extreme than the others. The other two are both common criminals who prefer not to actually go around destroying people. They silently get what they are after and then dash away. Raoul has no such qualms. He’s the meanest of the 3 and is willing to do anything.
Finally, we have the “Good Cop” villain. He doesn’t want to destroy anyone since he’ll wind up in jail for life at the bare minimum. This guy’s not a hero at all since he is still a robber, but the film portrays him as the lesser of the 3 evils. He’s also the smartest member and is the only reason that the villains come close to getting into the safe. Without his expertise, the whole mission would have been doomed from the start. He’s more likable than the other two, but I still can’t say that he is a good character.
Meg’s ex husband shows up at one point to help out, but he just makes the situation worse. He’s probably one of the more unintelligent characters in the film. He knows that something serious is going on, but he just walks in through the front door without a care in the world. True, he called the police, but he should have come in with them. I can understand not wanting to wait that long, but then he should have at least been prepared to fight. If he had come in with the cops from the get go, the film may have been a lot different. The cops did a decent job of trying to figure out what was going on, but there is only so much that they could do from their position. It was nice to see the main officer looking intelligent, but it was mostly just a sad scene of watching the villains get a few more chuckles in.
The heroes also made a few classic horror movie mistakes. For one, Meg made sure to trip and drop a lot of things while reaching for her phone. Had she not done this, she could have made it back to the Panic Room and dialed 9-11 from there. The film would be over and the heroes would have succeeded while barely breaking a sweat. Instead, the heroes lost their advantage. There is also the fact that even after they had the villains on the run and one of the heroes had a gun, there was too much hesitation. Not pulling the trigger and just letting the villain get closer is a pretty sad move. They may not be used to combat with such high stakes, but you can’t hesitate at that point in time.
Panic Room’s writing is all right for the most part, but it definitely does have an issue with language. It mostly comes from the villains since films love to have them swear as much as possible. Luckily, you’re mostly just hearing the air whiz by thanks to the edited version, but it was still a little excessive. In terms of violence, the film does get a little intense for the ex-husband. He really takes a big beating once he is at the hands of the villains. He gets a short reprieve, but then they land another shot or two in during the climax. He’s in terrible shape by the time the film is over and there’s possibly a chance that the injuries would be lethal. It’s too bad since the guy was trying to help, but it ended up backfiring quite badly.
Overall, Panic Room’s not a very fun thriller. I’d say that making Sarah ill was a little forced for giving the villains a way to get into the panic room and the writers couldn’t think of another way to make the situation work. It’s pretty tense as the villains keep trying to break in, but it’s never much fun and the language as well as the overall grit factor keep this from being a winner. The one fun part is probably the irony that the U.S. Bonds probably wouldn’t have helped the villains out all that much. Maybe they would have a way to cash them in, but these guys didn’t seem to have a whole lot in the way of connections. It’s possible that the whole journey would have been for naught this time. If you enjoy Home Invasion films then this one could be up your ally I suppose. Don’t expect the most well crafted film out there, but it could fit the bill. If you want an intense film with a little more action, then I recommend checking out Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan instead. That film has a lot of tension while still being a blast and a half as well.