- Rated R
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Sony Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
here’s something horribly amiss in Hollywood if studios think the moviegoing public is just going to gobble up anything even remotely related to the “Saw” franchise. I mean, call me crazy, but wasn’t the torture porn genre, like, so 2006? One would have thought the studios had learned their lesson after commercial failures like “Hostel: Part Two” and “Captivity,” but Screen Gems remains absolutely clueless (and about five years behind the curve) on what America wants.
Their latest film, the techno thriller “Untraceable,” is a sloppy genre flick that’s equal parts good (“Se7en”), bad (“Saw 3") and ugly (“Feardotcom”). What it lacks in originality, however, it more than makes up for with gaping plot holes, silly clichés, and enough product placement to make you sick. What's that? You've never heard of OnStar? Well, we'd love to show you how it works.
Of course, when FBI cypercop Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) isn't battling rush hour traffic, she's out catching bad guys on the internet. It’s mostly trivial stuff, but after Jennifer and her partner, Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks), stumble upon a mysterious website (KillWithMe.com) broadcasting live feeds of murders, she immediately diverts her attention to tracking down the psychotic man behind the operation (Joseph Cross). The website works like so: victims are hooked up to a Jigsaw-esque trap designed to kill them, and the more traffic the site gets, the quicker the person dies. Determined to put an end to the murders, Jennifer teams up with the local cop (Billy Burke) in charge of the case. But when she becomes the killer’s next target, the lives of her friends and family are put into jeopardy.
With a working title like “Streaming Evil,” it’s tempting to compare “Untraceable” to the kind of low-budget garbage you see on DVD, but despite its glaring issues (i.e. the fact that a freaking FBI agent wields the intelligence of a teenage horror victim), the film’s worst offense is believing it can work as a social commentary. Very anti-YouTube in it’s “how dare you watch this?” wag of the finger, the script attempts to draw comparisons between its killer’s actions and the fact that millions of Americans tune in to viral videos just like it every day.
Unfortunately, they’re not the same. While the fact that so many people know how to access a video of Daniel Pearl’s beheading is a bit unnerving, there was no direct relationship between Pearl’s death and the viewership. This is a key point in the argument, since I can’t imagine 15 million people tuning in to a live execution after they’ve learned of their connection to the murder. Have the filmmakers truly lost all faith in humanity or, in some twisted way, do they think they’re helping it? Hopefully, it’s neither, because when the “Saw” series features a stronger moral code than the one that appears in your film, there’s something horribly wrong.
Single-Disc DVD Review:
For those that found “Untraceable” to be ridiculous and socially backwards, you likely won’t be amused by the film’s DVD release. In “Tracking Untraceable,” writer Allison Burnett outs himself as a closet psychopath when he admits that if there were a site like the one portrayed in the movie, he would visit it, while the audio commentary track with director Gregory Hoblit is almost as boring as the film itself. Rounding out the single-disc effort is a making-of featurette (“The Blueprint of Murder”), a cast/crew discussion about the film’s lead characters (“The Personnel Files”), and a short special effects featurette (“The Anatomy of Murder”).