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  Publicity Stills of "Untraceable"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Thriller
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Cast: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Joseph Cross, Mary Beth Hurt
RunTime: 1 hr 41 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: NC-16 (Some Violence)
Official Website:


Opening Day: 3 April 2008


Within the FBI, there exists a division dedicated to investigating and prosecuting criminals on the internet. Welcome to the front lines of the war on cybercrime, where Special Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) has seen it all... until now.

A tech-savvy internet predator is displaying his graphic murders on his own website – and the fate of each of his tormented captives is left in the hands of the public: the more hits his site gets, the faster his victims die. When this game of cat and mouse becomes personal, Marsh and her team must race against the clock to track down this technical mastermind who is virtually untraceable.

Movie Review:

Sigh, another movie with a decent premise gone wrong. The basis of this slash fest thriller was a killer, until it messed itself up somewhere during the 101-minute movie’s halfway mark. Imagine this ingenious scenario – a website which allows users to log in to see someone die “live”. The more hit the website gets, the faster the victim dies in front of your eyes. Picture the thrills and spills sadistic computer users will get by rushing to log into the website – it’s chilling just to think about it.

And to see it on screen – that’s scary. Diane Lane plays a secret service agent who deals with cyber crimes. Just as she thinks she has seen it all, she gets involved in a deadly game with a serial killer who taps on human beings’ curiosity to seek sick thrills. The murderer has created a website where he violent and painful murders are executed “live” online. Want to see the victim die quicker and more violently? Get all your friends to log online.

I would propose my esteemed webmaster to launch a similar mechanism on this website to increase hit rates, but that would be unethical and immoral.

Speaking of ethics and morality, this movie helmed by director Gregory Hoblit’s (Fracture. Frequency) does make you ponder about the dark side of human nature, and whether you would join the motley crew in assisting the killer murder the victim at a faster rate. Seeing the count meter escalate at a heart-thumping rate during the murder scenes does make you feel the guilty desire to be one of the accomplices if this scenario were to happen in real life. The themes of cyber wellness are relevant to today’s generation, considering the ever-evolving advancements in science and technology we are surrounded by.

And the Saw-inspired methods of killing help to make this thriller a nail-biting experience for fans of the slash fest genre. Without giving too much of the “fun” away (I can’t help but use that word, but it does indicate my gleefully sadistic nature whenever I see those scenes on screen), let’s just say you won’t see sauna baths and battery water in the same light ever again.

Alas, just as things are all going well in the content and thrills departments, the flick decides to pull a fast one by introducing a more than contrived turn of events which spoils the potential of the movie. Whether it’s the killer’s motives for his sick acts, the talented agents’ unbelievable skills of spotting clues or the single move that led to the police force’s ultimate victory, you’ll feel the filmmakers’ slipshod attempts to end the movie.

Which is a waste of talents, actually – because the ever reliable Lane does give a decent performance as the cyber crime agent with a heart. Supporting her fine performance are the somewhat bland Billy Burke (Feast of Love) and Colin Hanks (King Kong). Playing the role of the psychotic killer is Joseph Cross (Running with Scissors), who looks truly a fanatic and troubled teenager.

You’d grab the edge of your seats as the ecstasy-filled thrills heighten, but scoff at the gimmicky twist that is served at the movie’s finale.

Movie Rating:

(A wasted opportunity to explore the seductive lures of the cyber world)

Review by John Li


. Jumper (2008)

. Fracture (2007)

. The Flock (2007)

. Disturbia (2007)

. Saw IV (2007)

. Vacancy (2007)

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