January 23, 2008


My god...now this sicko is forcing
them to watch "Under the Tuscan Sun"

Grade: C +
Directed by: Gregory Hoblit
Starring: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Joseph Cross, Mary Beth Hurt, and Perla Haney-Jardine
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

The one intriguing aspect to Untraceable is the notion of the Internet being used to sate the two usually divergent cravings of the serial killer: attention and anonymity. Whether it is reasonable to believe that someone could abduct strangers and post their gruesome deaths for cyber-display is secondary. The more salient points are not only that such a forum theoretically exists, but also the sad truth that the public at large would log onto such a macabre spectacle in droves.

Unfortunately, this scrap of relevance only succeeds in making this goofy gorno The Condemned with a better cast. Here, a wronged young man (whose identity is revealed far too soon) kidnaps his victims and jerry-rigs his computer hard drive to inflict elaborate forms of torture – and, ultimately, death – in direct proportion to the number of viewers streaming the bloodshed from his website, www.killwithme.com. One poor sap receives IV anti-coagulants until he bleeds to death; a TV anchorman gets roasted under cascading hot lamps; water gets mixed with sulfuric acid to make…well, you get the idea. And, just in case today’s media has numbed you to human carnage, our killer offs a cuddly kitten, too. He might elude the police, but just wait until PETA gets medieval on his ass.

Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) leads the Portland, Oregon-based FBI cybercrimes agents – including Colin Hanks and a police detective played by Billy Burke – assigned to track the psycho through his encrypted virtual lair. However, what is quite traceable about this formula pic is its cinematic pedigree. Indeed, it is hypocritical, not ironic, to lambaste the public’s insatiable appetite for Web-based smut with a commercial feature film that patterns itself after the Saw series, Se7en, Feardotcom, and many, many others.

Director Gregory Hoblit, last seen defying common-sense in Fracture, tacks on a glut of coincidental howlers that attempt to assign motives where none are needed or plausible. Foreshadowing and telegraphed plot turns abound for those managing to pay attention during the film’s early stages, and genre protocol compels Hoblit to pay passing homage to the kid-in-peril (in the form of Jennifer’s daughter, played by Perla Haney-Jardine) and pseudo-love interest, both of which dissipate as quickly as they semi-materialize.

By the time our villain hacks into Jennifer’s OnStar car system, the only things you will be tracing are your steps back to the theater’s exit door.

Neil Morris

1 comment:

Kim said...

WOW - I think we finally agree on a movie!!! ha-ha Not necessarily for the same specific REASONS, but I gave it 3 1/2 stars, too (I think that is just about equivalent to your C+ rating)! I thought it was basically good, but had some flaws that left it off my "DVDs to buy" list!