Untraceable (2008)

(In theaters, January 2008) I anticipated this film with a mixture of cringing and dread: “Cyber-Crime Movies”, after all, have a terrible track records: From The Net to Firewall (with a special dispensation for Hackers‘ in-jokes), the field’s been a laughingstock of dumb technological mistakes and routine thriller with a techno paint-job. Untraceable goes through the motions well and almost masters the jargon early on (you can spot the line where fiction leaves reality), but life keeps ticking out of this paint-by-number film almost as fast as the victims of the lame “Internet killer” anchoring this story. Diane Lane stars as an FBI agent on the case, but it doesn’t take three acts to figure out the predictable outcome of the film as the identities of the victims come closer and closer to her. Worse: The unnerving nature of the film’s high concept actually gets less and less interesting as the script ties it up together, as disappointing motivations get in the way of a pesky exercise in torture-porn film-making. The setups are obvious, the suspense is practically absent and the script seldom gets to the quick of its thesis on consequence-free voyeurism. The film’s last thirty seconds are a mish-mash of reheated vigilante justice and an ironic coda that only server to highlight the issues avoided and the hypocrisy of the entire project. Tssk-tssk-tssk; so many wasted opportunities here. I’ll grant that it’s better than Firewall, but that’s the very definition of low expectations.

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