Pros: Diane Lane
Cons: poorly conceived, illogical, bad script
Untraceable is a 2007 formula thriller directed by Gregory Hoblitt that stars Diane Lane.
Lane plays an FBI special Agent whose specialty is catching cyberspace crooks. She's very good at her job, tracking down money launderers, identity thieves and perverts. Suddenly a new website appears called Killwithme.com and it provides a live video feed at first featuring animals and then eventually people who are horribly tortured in various overly creative ways. The twisted perpetrator kills his victim faster if more people tune in to watch. Can the FBI agent find the sicko before more die? Will the sicko wind up stalking Lane and her family making things even more personal?
Although this sounds more like a torture porn horror movie in the SAW vein than a far-fetched thriller wasting the talents of Lane, it was marketed toward a more mainstream audience so everything has a big budget polish to it.
It also tries to convince that what the psycho-killer is doing is technically possible and it’s certainly believable---right? No.
It’s too contrived, stupid and sick to be convincing as a thriller but it’s too mainstream and safe to satisfy horror fans and there’s not enough gore or nudity to interest extreme fans.
Lane actually delivers a performance as if she’s in a good movie which makes things even worse since we know she shouldn’t be wasting her time in mediocre bad high-concept junk like this. The script makes her a great FBI agent but a ditzy mom/widow. She’s at odds with her superior officer, has a nice relationship with her technical geek helper (Colin Hanks) and another possibly developing one with patrol cop Eric Box (Billy Burk that provides predictable romantic comedy relief.
Thankfully the child in danger angle, which could have made the movie even more manipulative and sour doesn’t get fully developed. The police procedural stuff including red-herrings takes up screen-time. There’s an interesting motive for the crime but not much surprise in the reveal of who-done-it.
The film’s obvious points about the problems the media can cause during sensitive criminal investigation isn’t believable or effective.
The material if done more extremely and as an exploitation/horror film might have made for a much better movie—but Lane would probably not have gotten involved in such a project.
Untraceable wastes the talents of Diane Lane in a ridiculous (illogically) unpleasant thriller that doesn’t satisfy on any level.
©2012, Christopher J. Jarmick