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A movie directed by Gregory Hoblit

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Uninspirable, unsuspenseable

  • Nov 29, 2009
Pros: Diane Lane

Cons: What passes for a plot, very flat characters

The Bottom Line: Unrememberable, unremarkable.  If you're a Diane Lane film, then you won't be disappointed with her, but put this film towards the bottom of the list.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

Serial killer flicks have become the movie equivalent of conspiracy theories: made so often that you really need to get as rococo as possible to hold on to even short attention spans. Failing that, you need to be clever about how the victims die. Untraceable is clever by half, using my somewhat tortured metaphor.

Untraceable is not a whodoneit, it is how to stop the already identified killer. FBI Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) specializes in cyber crimes. Amid the usual work, she and her team run across a sadist running a website with streaming video of hideous death. Once the method of murder is established (the clever by half part), it is a hunt to find him before there are other victims.

In some manner we have seen each part of this c-movie before at the b-movie level. There is the find the known killer (Copycat and American Psycho come to mind); there is the internet thriller aspect covered in films like Fear Dot Com. The question, then, is whether Untraceable brings anything new to these plotlines. I think not.

Diane Lane’s performance is up to her usual quality, though a bit out of type for her. The problem here is that her talent is poorly spent trying to drag a drab film all by herself. Hers is the only memorable role. Everyone else is a stock character pulled out of the cheapest central casting shed. This is mainly due to the writing. Robert Fyvolent and Mark Brinker seem to have done nothing to flesh out any other character. Even the killer is two-dimensional (I had to think harder than I should have to remember his motives). If you really like Ms. Lane, then you can probably forgive the film’s uninspired and formulaic nature that doesn’t even rise to the level of mildly suspenseful.

Finally, Untraceable does raise ethical questions about public responsibility with regards to the internet. This is only covered in passing. In as much as it is fair to say so, delving into this topic could have saved the film from ending up in the “Buy 1 get 2 free” bin at Game Stop. Alas . . .


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More Untraceable reviews
review by . December 21, 2008
UNTRACEABLE is a thriller that takes our current obsession with the Internet and our hunger for the grisly 'eyewitness' matter found on certain blogsites to an extreme that is at times difficult to watch - but maybe a bit too close to apparent public interest to ignore. Written by Robert Fyvolent, Mark Brinker and Allison Burnett (a fine novelist whose 'Christopher: A Tale of Seduction' and 'The House Beautiful' continue to stir interest) and directed with unrelenting tension by Gregory Hoblit, …
review by . November 15, 2008
(to the tune of Stay With Me - Diana Ross)   Stay with me   Slay with me   Come on-line and play with me   Maybe you should rearrange your plans     I'll show you a whole new world I've found   Watching victims posed and bound   Now you can hear them screaming here   Where they can't be found     Won't you stay with me   Slay with me   Just sign on and play with me   If …
review by . May 28, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Novel in its approach, 'Untraceable' asks interesting moral questions about a plausible technological nightmare. A disgruntled man kidnaps select victims to torture and kill, adding more of a given hazard as the numbers of people log into his website. As his online broadcast is made known, FBI agents (headed by Jennifer Marsh [Diane Lane]) try to keep the situation under the radar and bloggers off the website. Savvy for obtaining a Russian domain for his website, the perpetrator renders the crew …
review by . May 21, 2008
Untraceable seems like the perfect thriller. And it deals with something that not a lot of thrillers have yet dealt with and that's the idea of cyber crimes and a very disturbing cyber-crime at that. Untraceable could have been the perfect set up for a very disturbing, gory thriller with homages to Silence of The Lambs, Saw, and other thrillers. Unfortunately where the idea was great the execution was awful. I think many mistakes were made with this dud and done differently it could have been great. …
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Paul Savage ()
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I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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About this movie


Untraceable is a 2008 thriller starring Diane Lane, Joseph Cross, Billy Burke and Colin Hanks.

Diane Lane plays an FBI agent, Jennifer Marsh, who is investigating the work of a serial killer who kidnaps victims and kills them while streaming the events on his website: www.killwithme.com.  The number of people logged onto this website is directed related to how quick the victim will die.  As time goes on, Marsh also becomes a victim of this killer.

When Untraceable was open in theaters, it raked in negative reviews as many critics referred to this piece as "torture porn."

Directed by Gregory Hoblit (FRACTURE, PRIMAL FEAR), UNTRACEABLE follows F.B.I. cybercrimes specialist Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) as she attempts to track down a serial killer who brazenly displays his murderous deeds on the Internet. Aided by fellow agent Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks) and local detective Eric Box (Billy Burke), Marsh tenaciously hunts for the elusive criminal in rainy Pacific Northwest settings, but as she closes in on her target, he deviously finds ways to get closer to her, all the while killing his victims in increasingly faster fashion. <br> <br> Clearly referencing a number of renowned thrillers--most notably the SAW films, SEVEN, and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS--UNTRACEABLE is far from an original cinematic exercise. However, Lane's steely, smart, and beautiful heroine ably anchors the film, which also benefits from its appropriately gloomy Portland, ...
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