A tech-savvy killer starts displaying his graphic murders on his own website - and the more people log on to watch the execution, the quicker the victim dies. The FBI's CyberCrime unit's Special Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) is put in charge of the case, working in tandem with Agent Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks) and Detective Eric Box (Billy Burke). Marsh and her team must race against the clock to track down the deranged mastermind who is virtually untraceable. Matters escalate when the deadly game of cat and mouse becomes personal.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Seamlessly blending the police procedural with serial killer horror, Untraceable is a solidly crafted thriller with white knuckle elements and top performances. Diane Lane is a great choice for the cybercrime investigator, taking the character out of the stock standard mould, with a single mum's domestic set-up to further texture Jennifer Marsh. Billy Burke provides excellent support as the intelligent detective and Colin Hanks is a likeable sidekick. But it's Diane Lane's show - and she's thoroughly engaging. Richard Brooks is also impressive as her boss, again avoiding stereotype.
Gregory Hoblit's experience with crime and police dramas on TV has sharpened his eye and given him the experience to turn out a fully loaded genre piece with a fresh uniform. The only reservation I have is that the last bit of detective work is revealed in a single statement by Marsh, instead of letting us discover the stitching clues ourselves as the investigators find them for themselves. Oh, and how in the climactic sequence the cops know the whereabouts of the creepy perp, Owen Reilly, brilliantly played by Joseph Cross - he was untraceable, after all.
The motivation for the crimes is well explained, though, albeit too many repeats of a sensation suicide video seems to be committing the very crime of which the motivation is made - and which earns such criticism from many quarters.
The film's opening sequences are especially well structured and edited, as we see how cybercrime investigators might really work. The internet is suddenly a scary place ... a whiz kid like this unhinged Reilly guy can, it seems, even hack into your car's electronics, your mobile phone - and in the case of a good movie like this, even our heads.
Review by Louise Keller:
With its sick premise of voyeuristic torture killings, it is hard to understand what could have enticed Diane Lane to be involved with this dubious thriller. What is ultimately more disturbing than the premise itself (after all, the plots of most serial-killer genre movies have sick elements), is the way director Gregory Hoblit injects a sensational voyeuristic element to the proceedings. It's all about ratings and numbers: the more people that log onto the killwithme.com site, become complicit accessories as the victim dies quicker. I felt as though I needed a good wash after watching.
Central to the proceedings is Diane Lane's Agent Jennifer Marsh, a single mother who seems to be almost obsessed by her job. It's a non-glamorous role for Lane; perhaps it's the lack of depth to her character that stops us from becoming overly sympathetic to her Jennifer. The accent is on her relationships with her colleagues, with whom she seems to share more intimacies than her mother and eight year old daughter. It irritated me that the screenwriters bury the feasibility of the plot under techno-speak; if you are not up to speed on how multi-IP addresses provide perpetrator shielding as well as the uses of back-door Trojans, you are deemed not smart enough to understand what is happening.
The first victim is a defenceless cat, whose fatal ordeal is the first to be made readily available online for the seemingly blood-thirsty general public. Are the killings random or non random the investigation asks? Hoblit hones the camera tightly on the victims as they are tortured to death - we watch the blood dripping on to the basement floor, skin blistering and blood filling the tank of Sulphuric acid. It borders on the ridiculous as we watch as one victim tries to send a blinking message in Morse code. And there's worse to come. While it does not surprise me that this is the first screenplay for two of the three screenwriters, but it does surprise that one of them (Mark Brinker) is a practising doctor in Houston. I for one would not rush to make an appointment to see a physician whose mind proffers such dark themes.
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CAST: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Joseph Cross, Mary Beth Hurt, Peter Lewis, Tyrone Giordano, Perla Haney-Jardine
PRODUCER: Andy Cohen, Hawk Koch, Gary Lucchesi, Steven Pearl, Tom Rosenberg, Rishard S. Wright
DIRECTOR: Gregory Hoblit
SCRIPT: Alison Burnett, Mark Brinker, Robert Fyvolent
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anastas Michos
EDITOR: David Rosenbloom
MUSIC: Christopher Young
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul Eads
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 24, 2008