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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Film Review: ‘Untraceable’ gives serial killer films an upgrade

Untraceable is an amalgamation of thrillers. It’s one part Saw, one part every forensics-based TV program and, apparently one part Silence of the Lambs, according to its movie trailers. This particular plot, however, shines pure ingenuity though it’s thoroughly disgusting – in a good way.

Wrapped inside of this latent, thoughtful political statement about media, technology and the First Amendment is a no-holds-barred, nail-biting thriller. In other words, it’s best to enter this film with a strong stomach and a working cognizance of technical jargon.

Luckily, most of it is not essential to understanding what’s going on, and some of it is even brushed off with a smug chuckle and a "nevermind" attitude. Outside of this, the film doesn’t try to be much else, allowing it to really mess with viewers’ heads while taking the story to the most disorienting extreme. If nothing else, it’s still entertaining and even somewhat cathartic.

From the onset, the mood is cold and calculating – perfect for a crime drama set in cyberspace. Not even the blood oozing from the victims can add much warmth. Our antagonist certainly doesn’t help, either.

Owen Reilly (Joseph Cross, whose roles have been growing more brooding and menacing) – Web developing and marketing genius, troubled twentysomething and fresh-faced psychopath – meticulously kidnaps his prey and sets up highly sophisticated torture devices that react to Web traffic by heightening and quickening the torture.

He sits back and watches while curious Web surfers – some inadvertently, some eagerly – bring about the death of a total stranger.

All the while, the FBI attempts to zero in on Reilly’s sadistic operation, but they have trouble matching wits with this young, intelligent designer. Leading the team is agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane), single mother, Internet police lady and geek extraordinaire. Over the years, it has become obvious that Lane has much more luck in this type of role. (Must Love Dogs? Seriously?) In Untraceable, Lane is on top of her game and there’s no reason to knock her.

Who can take terrorism seriously as a threat so long as this "untraceable" creep is somewhere out there? Hopefully no one in the theater got any ideas.

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