Untraceable (2008) starring Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Joseph Cross, Mary Beth Hurt, Peter Lewis, Tyrone Giordano, Perla Haney-Jardine directed by Gregory Hoblit Movie Review

Untraceable (2008)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Diane Lane as Jennifer Marsh in Untraceable

Lane and Hanks Thriller Becomes Untraceable

"Untraceable" the Diane Lane and Colin Hanks lead thriller is for the most quite a clever movie. It poses interesting questions whilst also combining elements from movies such as "Saw" and "The Net" along with a good dose of suspense to make a reasonably engaging movie. But sadly whilst for the first half "Untraceable" is indeed a thoroughly decent well thought out movie the second half falls into formulaic drivel which spoils all the good work done in building up an interesting story.

Jennifer March (Diane Lane - Hollywoodland) is a secret service agent working in the cyber crimes division who gets caught up in a very personal and dangerous game of cat and mouse with a murderer who streams violent and painful deaths live across the internet. The more people whose curiosity get the better of them and view his website to watch the deaths, the more violent they become.

Colin Hanks as Griffin Dowd in Untraceable

Right from its opening scenes "Untraceable" sets the tone for things to come with the introduction of the website where all the grizzly deaths will occur, in this case it is a kitten being starved to death, but things move rapidly on as the victims become human. At the same time we are introduced to Jennifer the cyber crime fighter who as a single mum works nights so that she can be with her daughter during the day. The set up is remarkably quick but totally effective and sucks you into the world of cyber crime fighting without bogging you down with needless internet terminology. In those few scenes where techno babble is being spouted it sounds remarkably convincing yet not critical for you to understand it just helps set the scene.

What is interesting about "Untraceable" is that it subtly poses the question that if you knew the web address where you could watch someone die would you go and take a look, even if you knew by doing so you would not only contribute to the death but also make it more brutal. It's the same sort of thing that when you pass a road accident you slow down to look. It is somehow human nature to be inquisitive especially when it comes to the gruesome and so "Untraceable" taps into this and in all honesty does it extremely well. When you watch the visitor counter rocket up on the website it is believable because you know there are people who would look and the power of the net to spread information faster than any other medium is well known.

But sadly despite working well for at least half of its duration "Untraceable" is spoilt by a rushed and formulaic ending which is disappointing after such a great build up. Everything is a little bit cliche and although you can second guess where the story will lead and who some of the victims will be it is all so rushed that all the suspense and tension is lost in a blink of an eye. The tension and suspense was what made the first part of "Untraceable" so good.

Despite featuring several pivotal characters "Untraceable" does feel very much like a one man, or in this case, woman show. Diane Lane absolutely shines in the lead role of Jennifer Marsh, she is utterly convincing not only as a single mum who is forced to work nights to support her family but she is also convincing as a cyber crime buster. Up until the disappointing ending you could say her character is rather boring and ordinary but in my opinion by making Jennifer very plain it makes the character all the more realistic.

Although Lane is the star of "Untraceable" she does have good support in the form of Colin Hanks as Griffin Down a fellow cyber crime fighter. It is an understated performance from Hanks which borders on making his character a geek but not going all the way making it work perfectly in harmony with Diane Lane's Jennifer.

What this all boils down to is that "Untraceable" is one of the better thrillers to have come out in recent years and despite a poor ending it is still very entertaining and will have you on the edge of your seat for quite a while. It manages to combine the goriness of the "Saw" movies, although with slightly less emphasis on the visual, with a pretty decent thriller surrounding activities on the net. Plus it stars Diane Lane who yet again shows why she is such a great actress in a role which could have been over baked but thankfully is restrained to perfection.