Written by Old Bluffer 12th Feb 2006
This death has a mass of categories, the scriptwriters were really enjoying ticking all the boxes!
Dwight Yoakam has been unsubtly cast as a homicidal bus driver with a balaclava fetish.
He's already gunned down the person that hired him (Junior (q.v)), threatened his last ally (Burnham) and administered a severe hiding to the father of the innocent victims he's been terrorising for the entire film. In other words, his credentials as Numero Uno Baddie have been firmly established.
He hasn't escaped his own share of damage though, as his hand was crushed by the eponymous Panic Room, the door mechanism of which was amusingly certified as being perfectly safe by the estate agent. (Even more entertaining, is Raoul's hopeful gathering of his crushed finger fragments when he leaves the room. Perhaps he was hoping to cow Burnham into welding them back onto his pulped hand.)
Back to the film, and our gunman is in a world of pain and threatening to kill young Sarah Altman.
Sarah's mother (Jodie Foster) has the cut of his jib by this point though, so has devised an elaborate Death Trap (q.v) involving locked doors, smashed lights, glass on the floor and the taping up of her ex-husband. The reason Mr Altman is taped up is that Raoul has broken his arm, so she thoughtfully tapes it into a position where he can fire the gun that she places in his cracked and bloodied fingers. I bet ex-hubbie is really impressed with this resourcefulness...
Raoul and Burnham decide not to do the obvious and just kick down one of the doors and leave the house by an exit presumably not guarded by a mother prepared to kill in order to save her daughter, and they blunder into the trap. Stephen Altman distracts the pair with a bright light (also conveniently gaffa taped to him - Meg Altman must have been a girl scout), and while they try and negotiate with him Jodie Foster sneaks up behind them and smashes Raoul beautifully in the face with a sledge hammer, sending him hurtling over the bannister and down to the next floor.
A quick glance at the top of this page shows we have several more category icons to get through yet though, so keep munching that popcorn!
Sure enough, Raoul is barely stunned and is soon crawling up the stairs. Stephen Altman shoots several rounds at him but is cursed with Poor Aiming - not because all the bones in his trigger arm have been broken, but because he was previously established as a Bad Husband / Bad Father archetype, who left his family for an Evil Homebreaker-Harpy-Woman. It is therefore inconceivable that he could have any possibility of being a hero.
Raoul soon gets to the top of the stairs, and manhandles Mother Altman to the floor.
At this point, the young daughter has her one and only Action Scene, as she has been carefully holding a medical pack for absolutely ages, and it has been telegraphed to the audience that Someone is going to get some syringes stuck in them by the sassy teenager.
That someone is of course the Psychopathic Bus Driver, and young Sarah really makes the most of her moment of glory, repeatedly plunging the (insulin?) syringes into his neck and back, in a frenzied case of Extreme Acupuncture.
A few milligrams of drugs aren't going to stop our man Raoul though, and he despatches Sarah with a meaty right hook (the hand that still has a full complement of knuckles) and then lifts the sledge hammer menacingly above Meg's face...
...Meg is saved though (phew!) by the Thief With a Heart, Burnham. He has returned to save the day, when he could have escaped the area with his $22,000,000 heist. Shooting from off camera, he blasts Raoul in the back of the head with his own gun.
Burnham does have some small measure of revenge on the Altmans and society as a whole though, as he takes out the fortune in bonds before he is captured, and is forced to let them scatter in the wind when the police tell him to put his hands up and "let go of the papers". As he had no reason to take them out of his jacket one can only presume he figured "If I can't have the money, then no one can."