Untraceable (2008)

Genre(s): Crime / Thriller
Sony || R - 101 minutes - $28.95 || May 13, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-05-07

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Writer(s): Robert Fyvolent & Mark Brinker (story), Robert Fyvolent & Mark Brinker and Allison Burnett (screenplay)
Cast: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Joseph Cross, Mary Beth Hart

Theatrical Release Date: January 25, 2008

Supplemental Material:
  • Filmmakers' Commentary
  • Tracking Untraceable
  • Untraceable: The Personnel Files
  • The Blueprint of Murder
  • The Anatomy of Murder

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Stereo Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.


The torture porn genre has spiraled out of control since the release of Saw back in 2004, spawning 3 sequels -- at this pace several more in the years to come Ė and countless rip-offs. Untraceable looks to be among the latter but I will give it props for giving an interesting motive to the killer (even if it was very ďCSIĒ-like in its logic), even if the rest of the script feels half-baked.

Untraceable stars the venerable Diane Lane as agent Jennifer Marsh, working for the FBIís cyber unit; her job entails tracking hackers and Internet thieves. Soon she is in a cat and mouse game with a killer who uses the Net where, with each visitor, the victim receives a proverbial nail in their coffin. With every new victim, the site becomes more and more popular and the person dies exponentially faster the previous one. Problem is, the killer is, wait for it, untraceable using some nifty cyber tricks (beyond me) to continually change their IP address. Aiding Marsh on her quest to capture the executioner is Eric Box (Burke), a city detective assigned to the case after the first kidnapping.

The film holds some interest, personal interest, for me since it was filmed in my home state of Oregon where Hollywood movies rarely get made, half-way decent ones anyway. But even a simple cityscape shot was great to see, some of the logical elements were hard to ignore. Iím getting into spoiler territory, so skip to the next paragraph if you haven't seen the film yet. The climax finds our fearless heroine, after the bad guy has been identified but still on the loose, wandering around with no protection. Now, given what she and that FBI field office had been through, one would think an escort wouldíve been mandatory, but nope there she is stuck in the middle of the bridge Ė and a nearly deserted one at that Ė completely vulnerable for the villain to subdue her. You can figure out the rest...

Of course, logic can be ignored if you have compelling actors and even if the characters arenít fleshed out, Diane Lane, Colin Hanks and Billy Burke give good performances that allow Untraceable to be a passable movie, even if itís substandard in comparison to other suspense-thrillers. No, itís not terribly original given the Saw franchise and the other copycat torture flicks, yet it did manage to keep me entertained, even through the disgust, and thatís all I really ask for in a film of this scope.

The film was directed by Gregory Hoblit is a fine filmmaker helming a few solid flicks over the years starting with Primal Fear which introduced us to a legendary-in-the-making actor in Edward Norton. His most recent work, Fracture, was a top-notch mystery-thriller propelled by two fantastic actors (Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling) and while Untraceable doesnít quite match that level both in terms of talent, even with the ageless Diane Lane, or story, he shows that he can take a illogical script and still make a good movie experience how of it.

Untraceable isnít that great of a film, not even a good one on the whole, yet at the same time it offers an interesting dilemma in terms of the message when it comes to the Internet and Americaís fascination with violence and the relatively recent rise of the torture genre in film. Iím not sure if that was the target or intent to place a spotlight on the Saw-like films, though, and try this for a quandary, isnít Untraceable now a part of the torture porn culture?


Filmmakersí Commentary Ė Director Gregory Hoblit, producer Hawk Koch and production designer Paul Eads sit down for an informative commentary track that is, at the same time, kind of dull. It isnít for the lack of information but the trio didnít seem all too lively (though not bored). I think adding a cast member (Billy Burke perhaps?) mightíve picked things up some.

Tracking Untraceable (15:44) Ė This featurette covers the origins of Untraceable from the original writers (who receive story credit) to the man producers hired to rewrite the script. This also goes a little into the moral, or message, of the story and other elements of the screenplay.

Untraceable: The Personnel Files (15:05) Ė If thereís one feature I loathe more than still galleries or deathly boring commentaries, itís these actor/character profiles where they go one by one through the entire cast and each gives the other a figurative pat on the back. Give me something useful or at the very least entertaining, neither attribute were absent in this one.

The Blueprint of Murder (13:30) - As I mentioned earlier, the film was shot mostly, if not entirely, in Portland so this featurette, which covers everything from set and production designs to filming locations held more interest for me than it probably would for others.

The Anatomy of Murder (5:42) Ė Makeup effects masters guide us through each murder about making body and/or head molds and the process going into each of their murders.



Untraceable is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.40 OAR. The transfer, as far as I can tell, looks flawless. Black levels arenít the greatest but still fine. Hoblitís direction is pretty dark anyway, given the subject matter, so thereís little color and even in the outside world, it is raining 95% of the time.

Sony provides a decent Dolby Digital 5.1 track but it isnít anything that great either. The center speaker gets most of the use with dialogue but the others make use of rain or thunder claps to contribute to the creepy atmosphere. 5.1 tracks are also available in French and Portuguese while the Spanish track is only stereo surround.


Untraceable isnít a top of the line suspense-thriller but it does feature the lovely Diane Lane and better direction from Gregory Hoblit than probably the script deserved. Itís not quite a copy of Saw or Hostel though the film does share the same kind of moralistic message. This may not be that great of a film but itís certainly worth renting.