Panic Room
dir. Fincher
Opens Fri March 29
Various Theaters

If there is one thing I cannot overlook in a film, it's a plot hole. Or even worse, an implausible story supposedly based in reality. If either of these two fatalities occur, I can still like the film--but will not take it seriously. It's kind of like sleeping with someone you don't respect, or reading Jackie Collins.

Panic Room isn't a terrible movie, but it commits these two cardinal sins. Jodie Foster's husband is a rich, cheating prick, so she buys a giant Manhattan brownstone in order to get revenge. The house was previously owned by a dead, paranoid millionaire, and comes complete with a "Panic Room" with video camera monitors, a phone, a motion sensor door (so no one gets caught in it), and food. The son of the millionaire, unscary Jared Leto, knows there's money in a safe inside the Panic Room and gets crazy Raoul (Dwight Yoakam), and a security expert (docile and friendly Forrest Whitaker) to help him get rich quick.

But herein lies the problem: For some reason, dumbass Leto allows the house to sit empty for two weeks before performing the heist, and before he knows it, Jodie and daughter are all moved in. Instead of waiting until they're not home, Leto and pals debate for an hour about whether to try for the money anyway, and decide to go for the dough. Jodie glimpses them on the monitors during their quibble, runs and grabs her kid, and, OF COURSE, goes into the Panic Room.

Unfortunately, though, the phone isn't hooked up in the Panic Room--DAMN!--and Jodie's kid has diabetes and needs insulin, fast. Double DAMN! When Jodie runs to get her kid's insulin, teddy bears Whitaker and Raoul get their shot at the room and here comes another dumb plot hole. Raoul's hand gets caught in the Panic Room door--which, if you'll remember, has a motion sensor that makes getting his hand caught impossible! Ah-HA!

Sadly, Panic Room is not terrifying, all plot turns are contrived or ridiculous, and the story is written as if it was built around the concept of a Panic Room existing, instead of being a clever story that happens to include a Panic Room. It lacks order, meat, and ingenuity. But putting all that aside, it's sort of okay Jodie has a nice bod, the old house is cool, and Jared Leto is humorously spastic. Which is to say, it's about as tolerable as an episode of Dawson's Creek.