Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I’ve never been one for seeing live deaths which is the narrative cornerstone of the Diane Lane vehicle ‘Untraceable’. Never had any desire to see Sadam Hussein hang, to see Daniel Pearl get his head cut off, or to see some televised firing squad. I derive no pleasure, perverse or otherwise, from that nonsense. I did see the first ‘Faces of Death’ when I was kid but I didn’t know any better back then, and now I do. This was actually a very interesting premise for ‘Untraceable’ which has wrapped this interesting premise around the typical generic thriller trappings, but still managed to be somewhat entertaining despite itself.

The always lovely Ms. Lane is FBI Agent Jennifer Marsh who is working nights in her Portland Oregon office in the cyber crimes unit, along with her good buddy Agent Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks), and together they root out pedophiles, cyber thieves, MPAA and RIAA violators across the land. This particular night Agent Marsh runs into a rather disturbing sight called which shows a cute little kitty cat being murdered, with the number of hits to this sight driving how expediently that cat dies. Agent Marsh is disturbed, particularly considering the complex labyrinth of protocols the website has enacted so that this dude can to avoid detection and shut down, but her boss informs it’s just a damn cat and life goes on.

Our killer is some guy named Owen Reilly (Joseph Cross) and though I would think he would like kill a dog or a small farm animal next, he goes straight for the big game and sets up a real live human being in his death trap with again, the more hits, the faster he dies. Now the FBI has a real live crisis on their hands as they try to find this victim before its too late. Too Late! Now we have a murderous psycho on our hands which brings in local cop Eric Box (Billy Burke) to assist Agent Marsh on the investigation, and now our killer has amped things up adding a couple more fresh kills to his total.

Then things start to get personal between our killer and our Agent as he seems to be stalking her family which includes a young daughter and her close personal friends, but still, we don’t know why this man is doing these horrible things. We will find out soon enough however as our special agent find herself caught up in one of my man’s evil traps with the number of hits climbing every second.

These are SPOILERS so you may not want to read further, though they’re barely spoilers for any body who’s watched a thriller or two in the past. The minute we meet the Colin Hanks character, being all young and fresh with a future and so full of energy, it would have been a pleasant surprise if he could live. Also, when his character tells Agent Marsh that he has something to tell her that is very important, why do we know he’s not going to get that chance? Perhaps he should go ahead and tell her now since he will be dead soon. If he watched the movies like we watched the movies he would know this. When Agent Marsh’s truck shorts out in the darkness on the bridge, getting no power, and she jumps out and calls the hero cop to inform him of the dire situation, he tells her to stay put and he’ll send a couple of black and whites to help. While on the pay phone her car miraculously powers back up. Excuse me Miss FBI Agent, but you were advised told NOT TO MOVE, and yet you get back into a car that has magically started up without you being anywhere near it. Perhaps you shouldn’t get back in it, especially since the bad guy was just talking to you through your ON-Star mere minutes ago. Finally, our bad guy totally secures all of his previous kills, so they can’t do anything except die. However this FBI agent gets unprecedented freedom to do all kinds of stuff which I’m thinking is going to end bad for this dude. All of that is just typical generic Hollywood thriller stuff which we have come to expect.

Typical genericness aside, we have loved Diane Lane since we were a little boy and she was a teenager in ‘A Little Romance’ and we have hated Christopher Lambert for taking her away from us ever so briefly, but gave him pass for him giving us ‘Knight Moves’. Ms. Lane was very good as the worried mom / FBI agent, though her character did the usual stupid stuff that characters do in movies like this. The narrative had a very interesting premise as the screenwriters came out in full attack against the gawkers that inhabit the Internet and how its anonymity caters to some folks most debase desires, though again some of the things that transpire within this narrative seem to circumvent common logic. I also don’t know nearly enough about the technology as presented in the narrative and how credible it is, but for the novice viewer they did make it seem like this could actually happen. Director Gregory Hoblit, who also helmed the far superior ‘Fracture’, certainly knows how to create tension and suspense in his films and he keeps the film moving along at a very nice pace which does make it very watchable and Joseph Cross looks like Neil Patrick Harris gone terribly wrong and makes for a very credible bad guy.

‘Untraceable’ is a very palatable Hollywood style thriller, and it is what we’ve come to expect from the genre but with its talented star, interesting premise and gifted director it seemed as if could have been better than it was.

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