Untraceable
2008
In this tense thriller, cybercops find themselves grappling with a megalomaniacal, murderous psychopath who uses the Internet to show off his grisly handiwork, rigging his site so his remaining captives' fates depend on how many viewers it attracts. Led by FBI Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) and working against the clock, can the team apprehend the technologically brilliant killer? Colin Hanks and Mary Beth Hurt also star.

Scott Hardie: “It sucked.”

I don't necessarily mind a movie that criticizes America's lust for graphic bloodshed with two hours of graphic bloodshed; Natural Born Killers did it very well a decade ago. But I do mind a movie that takes such a bare-bones approach to it, providing a flimsy motive for its villain and no sympathy for its heroine beyond Diane Lane's natural likeability. Maybe the film could have worked better by taking place entirely on the web, a gimmick that would have echoed co-star Colin Hanks's turn in Alone with Her last year, or by showing many more of the people who choose to log into such a disturbing site, instead of one skateboarder and a chorus of obscene morons posting comments. Instead, it dramatizes the search for a moralizing killer through the perspective of a law enforcement agent who, though disgusted by his methods, registers virtually no opinion of his message. Without a proper vessel for its ideas, the film becomes an empty torture-porn knockoff with little entertainment value.

The plot turns are telegraphed well in advance, the killer's abilities exceed the suspension of disbelief, the archetypical clueless police-chief character is as dumb as ever, and the surprises are revealed with little ceremony, such as the killer's identity. This movie is worse than a thriller-by-numbers, because it can't even follow the numbers correctly. It gets points for a semi-plausible explanation of how a website could be made untraceable, and throws them away with such careless errors as a hacked car computer and a desktop computer that can serve tens of millions of hits in a minute. To paraphrase its chief idiot, any American who views this movie is an accomplice to crap.

− February 6, 2008 • more by Scottlog in or create an account to reply

Amy Austin: Heheh... I am simultaneously amused by the (expected, and deservedly so, I'm sure) sucking review and yet disappointingly motivated by the same morbid curiosity that provides the basis for what I think is a really sick plot. My reaction to the trailer was complete revulsion, but -- strangely enough -- your dismissive review gives me an inkling of desire to watch it... even though I am certain that I will agree with your conclusion! Rest assured, however, that I won't be paying theater or DVD or PPV money to be that crap accomplice. No, I'll do it the dirty, old-fashioned way that does the film its only possible justice... from the dark and can't sleep, late-night, nothing-else-on-TV privacy of my own home. And hopefully, I'll fall asleep on it. ;-D − February 7, 2008 • more by Amy

Scott Hardie: Well, I sought out this movie because I work online, and I was curious to see how badly they mishandled the tech talk. Let's just say it's the kind of movie that refers to an "Internet Web Site" with a straight face. − February 7, 2008 • more by Scott

Amy Austin: Yeah, I know... I remember your earlier comment on it in the Oscar Season discussion (before you saw it), and just from that alone I was expecting some suckitude in your review... ;-) − February 7, 2008 • more by Amy

Amy Austin: Yep. I concur -- it sucked.

Did end up seeing it in the wee hours on cable... didn't fall asleep, but did get up to go to the bathroom and missed the whole ending. I was devastated. − June 26, 2009 • more by Amy

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