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Untraceable
DVD disk
05.27.2008 By: Jason Adams
Untraceable order
Director:
Gregory Hoblit

Actors:
Diane Lane
Colin Hanks
Billy Burke

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
FBI agents attempt to capture a killer who is broadcasting his murders live on the internet, with the website's traffic determining how quickly each victim dies.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
UNTRACEABLE is the kind of formulaic thriller that makes just enough money that they'll keep thoughtlessly pumping them out (so long as Diane Lane or Ashley Judd agree to star). And this time around the variable in the formula is…the Internet. Hey, we're familiar with that!

Curiosity is one of the driving factors of online culture. I mean, who isn't guilty of looking at weird or morbid stuff from the safety of their home computer? (Though I'm quite proud of being one of the seven websurfers who has not watched "2 Girls, 1 Cup.") UNTRACEABLE exploits this to an alarming degree, condemning people who anonymously get their kicks looking at sick stuff, then turning around and showing you grisly murders in exchange for your money. Irony, no?

The filmmakers' main mistake though is basing the entire movie around something as fluid and ever-changing as the world wide web in the first place. Sure, the film has the possibility to be a timely critique on current social trends in mass media and internet culture…but you know they're not going to go for that in UNTRACEABLE. Instead it's a standard thriller with "hip" net lingo thrown in, stuff that's been rendered outdated and laughable in between the time the script was written and the film's release date. Watching the elite cyber crimes unit talk about pirated music and identity theft, or seriously explaining what ROTF means, almost makes the whole thing a comedy. Then there's the killer, whose lament against technology and human nature ends up being a lame ripoff of Jigsaw from the SAW franchise, and isn't helped by the fact that they decide to kill off the whodunit mystery halfway through.

Diane Lane and Colin Hanks are both more than capable in their roles; it's just that their parts as written don't require anything from them. Likewise, I had high hopes for director Gregory Hoblit after the Edward Norton-introducing PRIMAL FEAR and the surprisingly effective FREQUENCY. There are slight hints of style peeking through every now and then, but UNTRACEABLE has generic written all over it.
THE EXTRAS
Not for lack of trying, but the bonus material here is just as fomulaic as the film.

Commentary by director Gregory Hoblit, producer Hawk Koch and producion designer Paul Eads: There's really only so much that can be said about a formulaic thriller like UNTRACEABLE, and these three cover it all pretty quickly. But more importantly, is Hawk Koch not the coolest name ever?

Tracking UNTRACEABLE (15:43): Writers, producers and Hoblit trace the film's path from script to screen.

The Personnel Files (15:05): The crew talks up the cast and vice versa. Hoblit calls Diane Lane "the cat's meow." I agree.

The Blueprint of Murder (13:29): A look at location scouting and production design. Funny, nobody mentions ripping off the aesthetics of the SAW franchise.

The Anatomy of Murder (5:42): An overview of the makeup and gore effects used in some of the film's grisly murders. Of course the most interesting feature would also be the shortest.

Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
UNTRACEABLE is pretty much a retread of your typical thriller-meets-SAW-movie set in Internetland. The easily amused might find something entertaining in the mix.

Extra Tidbit: If Perla Haney Jardine, who plays Lane's daughter, looks familiar it's probably because she was the Bride's offspring in KILL BILL.
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