Directed by Gregory Hoblit
Starring Diane Lane, Colin Hanks, Billy Burke
Release date: Jan. 25, 2008
Probably one of the most over-used expressions when critiquing gory movies is “torture-porn.” This over-generalization encompasses not only the recent proliferation of films with shock value and elaborate murder sequences, but our own apparent obsessive desire to watch such strange macabre events online. Behind the anonymity of screen names, people’s voyeuristic behaviors give an audience to those who will literally do anything for attention, without all the guilt of association.
Thus is the message of the thriller Untraceable, which becomes immediately clear from the film’s been-there-done-than plot and preachy undertone. But even given an abundance of material to use, Untraceable is mostly unremarkable and unmemorable.
Diane Lane gives the only noticeable performance as FBI cyber-agent Jennifer Marsh, as the poster, which only features a close-up of her face, implies. Everyone else, including the killer, is very bland, generic background noise. Marsh investigates cyber-crime, easily cracking down on identity thieves and hackers. That is until she comes across a new site, killwithme.com, which streams a live video of a person in a torture device designed to worsen as more viewers log on. (FYI, the site really exists, but it links to a promotional page for Sony Pictures). But the person running the site seems to be a technical genius who has taken every precaution to prevent them from tracking him down.
But how interesting would the movie be if there really was nothing the good guys could do? The usual cat-and-mouse game follows along with some obvious warnings about the risks of online dating, posting personal information on the Internet, and how online anonymity can bring out the worst in people. Though there are some semi-suspenseful moments along the way, they are sparse.
The torture devices are comparably gruesome as the ones features in the latest Saw film, but their major difference is the increasing magnitude with which the victim is brutalized as time progresses. Those who enjoy watching pseudo-torture will probably find these traps the only enjoyable part of the movie, but as the idea of “torture-porn” has become saturated into critics’ minds, it just seems like more of the same.
Overall, Untraceable is by no means a terrible movie, but there is not much about it that separates it from the overcrowded genre in which in belongs.