Entertainment » Movies

Untraceable

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday Jan 25, 2008
Diane Lane in "Untraceable"
Diane Lane in "Untraceable"  (Source:Sony Pictures)

"Untraceable" falls victim to Hollywood's unabashed affection for getting more "hip" while making it blindingly obvious that Hollywood still hasn't the faintest idea how to talk the talk. This serviceable CSI-meets-Saw thriller gets the ideas right - gratuitous mass marketing of mankind's baser instincts - but it fails to make its own plot believable. Were it not for Diane Lane, whose acting chops nearly rescue the film from its own pedantic emulation of numerous twisted celluloid betters, the film would be unwatchable. Fortunately, Lane's ability to effectively portray the emotions of dedicated mother whose FBI job pits her fears against her own moral obligations gives us something to watch.

Lane plays Jennifer Marsh, a widowed agent whose desk job largely includes sniffing out cyber crime late at night. She's good at what she does, balancing her sleuthing with taking care of her 8-year-old daughter (Perla Haney-Jardine) - but when a sociopath begins assaulting people, dragging them to his basement, and torturing them live on the internet via his website "Killwithme.com," she's met her match. Not only has the programmer brilliantly masked his digital identity and location, making him untraceable (unlikely), he's also thrown in a twist: the more people log on to watch the victim suffer, the faster s/he dies.

The story written by Robert Fyvolent and Mark R. Brinker is predictable and derivative, and with the exception of Lane, few of the talented actors are given much to do. That's unfortunate, because a film that taps into the largely-ignored accountability of new media's mass-mentality - as well as its inherent stupidity (Director Gregory Hoblit did nail that aspect, offering up multiple shots of users on the website's chat lines saying idiotic comments) - could have been impactful.

The real problem with "Untraceable" is that ultimately it falls prey to the same sensationalistic mentality it derides. At first, the fact that this sicko is torturing people to death over the internet elicits a bit of a thrill - you'll probably think, "Yeah, I'd log on." But rather than testing its audience's mettle over being repetitive unwitting accomplices to a murder merely by visiting a website, the film dips into the unfortunate well of creative torture. As with "Saw" or "Hostel," each victim's fate is escalated in gore over their predecessors', and eventually you'll stop considering the ethical implications and merely wait to see what new unspeakable act will be visited on the next victim. And even Diane Lane's brilliant acting can't divert the conclusion that "Untraceable" is utterly hypocritical at heart.

Untraceable

Info

Runtime :: 101 mins
Release Date :: Jan 25, 2008
Language :: English
Country :: United States



David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.


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