‘Untraceable’ almost unwatchable

Katie Young

Courtesy Sony Pictures

Credit: Ron Soltys


Starring Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks

Directed by Gregory Hoblit

Distributed by Lakeshore Entertainment

Release Date: January 25

Stater rating (out of five): **

The box office gets its first dose of “torture porn” in 2008 with the release of Untraceable, a predictable thriller starring Diane Lane. The story follows Lane’s character, FBI agent Jennifer Marsh, as she tries to track down an increasingly sadistic serial killer as he broadcasts his victims deaths live over the Internet.

The film’s tech-savvy killer lets the public decide just how fast his victims die. The more people visit his Web site, killwithme.com, the faster his victims are tortured to death. (A note to anyone with a weak stomach: Skip this flick). As time runs out, Lane (surprise!) gets more involved than she ever suspected.

Lane, along with Colin Hanks, Billy Burke and Peter Lewis, form a stereotypical crime team cast. Lane plays the downtrodden female staff member, who does her job well but just can’t catch a break from her boss. (She gets bonus predictability points for having a rough personal life and being a single mom).

Hanks brings the goofy best friend factor to the team, as the smart, talented guy who is unlucky in love. Burke plays Lane’s counterpart, the mysterious and handsome foul-mouthed, could-be love interest with a soft side. Lewis, as Lane’s hardheaded boss, is equally as uninspiring. While none of the performances were particularly bad, not one actor was able to bring anything special to their one-dimensional roles.

The worst part about Untraceable is that it tries too hard to push a message across to viewers. We get it, the Internet is bad, and technology runs everyone’s lives, blah blah blah. The overbearing critique of Americans’ love of voyeurism and media’s reliance on sensationalist tactics ruins what little the film had going for it.

The film starts out strong, with plenty of suspense and an interesting premise, but it soon ventures into the absurd and far-fetched. The emphasis on foreshadowing tends to insult the viewer’s intelligence, and makes the film even more unsurprising. As time goes on, the film spends more time trying to get their social criticism across. As a result the plot suffers, and the once original story is left to rely on thriller film clichés.

Contact all reporter Katie Young at [email protected].