Starring: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks
Directed by: Gregory Hoblit (“Fracture”)
Written by: Robert Fyvolent (debut), Mark Brinker (debut), Allison Burnett (“Autumn in New York”)
Not everything about the new tech-thriller “Untraceable” is ridiculous and worthy of deletion, but most of it is. If there is a saving grace it must be Diane Lane, who could thrive in this genre if there was a workable screenplay to match what the classic beauty can do as an actress.
It happened in 2002 when Lane was nominated for her first Oscar in the dramatic thriller “Unfaithful.” In that film, Lane peeled back the layers of Connie Sumner, a wife and mother emotionally torn between her family and her lover.
In “Untraceable,” it’s the screenwriters (three of them to be exact), who are doing most of the cheating. Two newbies and the writer behind the sad and sappy film “Autum in New York” is an unusual combination that falters around the time the picture should kick into high gear.
It’s simple enough to guess from the title of the movie that either someone or something can’t be found. Turns out the missing link is a murdering computer geek who has created a Web site (killwithme.com) where visitors can assist in the killing of one of his victims by simply logging on.
It doesn’t seem like much to worry about at first for FBI Cyber Crime detective Jennifer Marsh (Lane) and her team of Portland-based Internet-browsing personnel. The killer makes his presence known by offing a kitty (don’t all serial killers have a history of animal violence?) on the World Wide Web. But when he starts kidnapping actual humans and rigging them to his computer system, Jennifer must do everything she can to find the whereabouts of the sadist before he broadcasts another death.
Where the film could have possibly made some sort of statement on the media’s influence on society and the curiosity the everyman has with violence (they mention the video of the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, which made its rounds on the net back in 2002), “Untraceable,” instead, goes for basic clichéd scenes where FBI agents knock down doors and come up empty. Why not just call it “CSI: Portland” and save us a trip to the theater? Plus, once the identity of the killer is revealed fairly early in the film (and you realize that, in fact, he is as dorky as any stereotypical computer programmer with an evil grin), there’s no reason to invest in the film especially if you’re the type of moviegoer who craves the unobvious.
Transparent and less shocking than the film thinks it really is, “Untraceable” is nothing more than a high-tech torture flick that’s heavy on the gore and light on the logic.