Saturday 27 April 2024

Movie Review: Untraceable (2008)

Genre: Crime Thriller  
Director: Gregory Hoblit  
Starring: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Mary Beth Hurt  
Running Time: 101 minutes  

Synopsis: In Portland, Oregon, the FBI's cybercrimes Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) investigates a website livestreaming a cat's death. The horror escalates when the site's next live broadcast features an abducted man's torture, with his demise accelerating with increased viewership. As word of mouth spreads, Jennifer, her colleague Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks) and Portland Police Detective Eric Box (Billy Burke) race to uncover who is behind the well-hidden site, as the investigators also become targets. 

What Works Well: The dark but prescient premise amplifies the looming dangers of grotesque online spectacles, and challenges the audience to participate in the sadistic voyeurism being condemned. Indeed, the antagonist here recruits the public into the act of murder, with a motive behind the madness further underlining the damage of broadcasting medieval bloodlust. Diane Lane capably carries a heavy dramatic load. 

What Does Not Work As Well: As presented, the villain is exceptionally resourceful and the FBI's investigative skills are spectacularly inept. Director Gregory Hoblit invests heavily in the centrepiece torture and murder showcase scenes and shortchanges good police work. The supporting cast is underpowered, and while Jennifer is surrounded by a past (an absent spouse) and present (a young daughter and mother), the character depth is largely wasted. After an excellent climax, the ending is quite abrupt.

Conclusion: Uncomfortable, imperfect, and worthwhile.

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