Panic Button (2011) Review
Panic Button (2011) Review
Four young people win a trip of a lifetime to New York, courtesy of their favourite social-networking website – All2gethr.com. On board the private jet, their mysterious host invites to take part in the in-flight entertainment – a new online gaming experience. But this is no ordinary game. Trapped at 30,000 feet, they are forced to play for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. They are about to learn that putting your life online can have deadly offline consequences and that there no ESC key…
Panic Button, originally released in 2011, is hitting the retail market again, this time as a remastered edition. Director Chris Crow’s thriller makes for a very pleasant surprise, for a film that so few have probably heard of. By focusing on the perils of social media – especially giving away too much personal information about yourself online – it plays like a mix-up of Saw, 2002’s My Little Eye and TV’s Big Brother. It’s by turns gripping, silly, bordering on absurd at times, but it’s a fun watch and moves at a decent pace ensuring that you never really notice its shortcomings until after viewing.
In researching Panic Button online, for the purpose of reviewing, I was amused by folks using the words ‘low budget’ like it is an affliction of some kind. Low budget titles – most found-footage flicks aside – generally tend to be more innovative than larger budget flicks and many name directors have come from such humble beginnings. Online ‘critics’ have also waffled on about there being no big names in the cast. And? Tom Cruise is a big name and his recent Mummy flick was shite so their criteria for belittling the flick on both grounds shows a lack of film knowledge and pedigree on their part. Yes, Panic Room is a low budget film and yes the small cast is not exactly packed with familiar faces but they can act, the direction grips and there’s more food for thought here than you’d get from any number of bigger-budget releases.
When I sat down to review Panic Button I anticipated that it might be a title that I would kind of half-watch so I had my phone to hand to check on messages. That never happened. I didn’t even stop or pause the disc to pop out for a smoke either. That’s how gripping the set-up is. The film’s first half is tense, being more of a think-piece, as we find out more about our lead characters and in doing so we can ALL relate to the findings. When the action kicks in we lose the more interesting material and the moral ambiguities presented in the first half fade away. It will certainly make you think twice about what you watch, access or post online.
Panic Button veers into Saw territory with each character having revealed their true selves but here that aspect works – these people have posted everything online so it’s not like they have anyone else to blame but their selves. But once the reason why this foursome has been selected has been revealed, you do question the moral aspects of their being killed given that this makes the person pulling the strings just as bad as those being punished. That aside Panic Button is, for the most part, a fun ride and certainly worth your time and attention.