"Untraceable" DVD Review
May 14, 2008 by James Harvey
Untraceable brings us the first real thriller based around internet crimes, and, to be fair, it's an interesting premise. It's a creepy idea to have a killer who get to virtually he anyone he or she wants to. However, like most thrillers, it moves along at a brisk pace until the final predictable confrontation between the main character and the deadly online nemesis. Now, I'll leave the full details of the plot for the synopsis below, but suffice it to stay, the movie does manage to keep the viewer firmly engrossed until the finale. However, that's not to say that the movie doesn't have a few flaws, but we'll get to those after the synopsis.
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) and Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks) have 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.
I want to get this out of the way immediately and debunk the "It's The Silence of the Lambs for the internet-age" plastered on the front of the box. The movie is creepy, yes, but it nowhere near rivals The Silence of the Lambs. That being said, the movie does offer a few chills and a compelling mystery to keep the viewer engaged for the 101 minute running time. However, like most thrillers today, it does fall into a predictable pattern. I can barely think of one recent thriller that hasn't been completely predictable. This one, sadly, is predictable, but it does include a guessing game, on the viewer's part, which does keep the audience involved, to an extent.
As for the guessing game, well, without giving away too many spoilers, it does become somewhat obvious why the killer is bumping off these targets. Even though his introduction to the movie is sort of out of left-field and somewhat befuddling, the strings can be strung together sort of easily. However, that's only for one real target. We're spoon-fed everything else, but once the "Rush Hour Suicide" video comes into play, it does make sense. Of course, immediately after the audience makes a few of their own connections, the movie spells it out entirely quickly afterward. So, for those looking to solve this mystery before the movie spills it, you have to be quick.
I will add that the identity, or at least the actor playing the killer, is befuddling. I won't give any specific details, but, for someone who's an apparent genius able to fool the FBI and pull off these tech-savvy and brutal crimes, isn't the killer . . . a bit young? I won't say anything more, but it will leave you scratching your head.
The actors go good work with the material, specifically Diane Lane. I can't remember the last time I saw Lane in a role that wasn't a romantic comedy, so it's nice to see her stretch a bit, and she does that nicely here. She provides a gruff persona with a tragic background without it becoming overbearing or clichéd. Nice work on her part. And her unofficial sidekick, played by Colin Hanks, gets a few moments in the movie, as well, and uses a pretty ingenious method to provide clues later in the film. I'd like to add additional props to the scoring and directing of the feature, helping emphasize the eerie aspects of the overly polished and well-paced script.
Untraceable is a fairly engaging movie, even if the coincidences and contrivances are just a shade too convenient. And, for technophiles, you may wish to avoid this movie, as the number of electronic impossibilities may be a shade too distracting. Despite that, the skillful directing really helps the movie overcome its faults and imperfections. It's a pleasing movie and one that should keep the audience engaged for the duration. Untraceable is a straightforward tale with no tricks or padding to test the audience. The story is told and we're along for the ride, with a few "try to figure it out yourself" pit-stops. Now, don't expect anything on par with The Silence of the Lambs, but the cast and crew do a respectful job here, jumping over and shortcomings and coming up with a clever and interesting film. Untraceable comes recommended for at least a Rental with the potential for a full purchase.
Untraceable comes in a standard Amaray case, which itself is housed in a cardboard foil slipcase. There are no inserts for this release, however. The packaging is bilingual for its Canadian release and unilingual for American consumers.
The presentation for the DVD itself is pretty standard for current releases. The menus are easy to follow and all employ a simple layout. The audio and video is top-notch for a standard DVD release. In fact, the colors tend to work excellently for this movie, which all the more adds to the eerie atmosphere for this release. The audio is clear, becoming loud and boisterous when it needs to be and allowing for every bit of dialogue to come across clear, even if the words themselves can be occasionally difficult to make out due to the actors onscreen. So, in short, a top-notch release in terms of presentation.
For fans of the movie, you'll find plenty of interesting tidbits Sony has packed onto the release. Again, the extras aren't overflowing by any means, but provide enough bonus material for viewers to enjoy. The extras include commentary with Director Gregory Hoblit, Producer Hawk Koch, and Production Designer Paul Eads, a "Tracking Untraceable" featurette, a "Untraceable: The Personnel Files" featurette, "The Blueprint of Murder" featurette, "The Anatomy of Murder," and, as usual, a wide array of preview trailers.
Overall, Untraceable is an enjoyable thriller featuring a competent cast and a polished script. Yes, it does follow the somewhat predictable trends of other recent films in the thriller genre, but it still manages to keep itself together for the duration. Sony Home Entertainment has released an excellent DVD, providing great audio and video transfers and packing on a nice helping of extras along the way. Again, I would definitely recommend this film for a Rental, but there is absolute potential for a purchase.
Untraceable is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.