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 ... more »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.« less
Tough, Brutal Diane Lane Thriller With Something To Say Abou
Terence Allen | Atlanta, GA USA | 02/27/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Untraceable certainly isn't a flawless thriller, but it's a solid, enjoyable one. It's not only a grisly, hard-at-times to watch film, but it has a brain, and definite opinions about how our culture seems to feed like pirahna on the misery and suffering of others using the immediacy of the internet.
Diane Lane plays an Portland FBI cybercrime investigator who finds herself after a gruesome killer who kidnaps his victims and tortures them to death on the internet, upping the ante as fast as he gets hits on his website. Lane's character is still grieving the death of her husband, a policeman killed in the line of duty, and this case quickly intrudes on her life with her mom and her young daughter.
There's no phony romance with her cop partner, no killer who is somehow connected to Lane, and she gets to save the day without a male cop taking over for her. There are plot aspects that don't ring true, but overall, this is a smart, engrossing film that has something to say, and says it pretty well."
Surfing the Web for Murder
Chris Pandolfi | Los Angeles, CA | 01/26/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Internet is capable of many things, some of them good, some of them bad; "Untraceable" is a film that shows not only its ugly side, but the ugly side of humanity, as well. This is an unnerving, suspenseful film that doesn't skimp on social commentary, and this is despite the fact that it hurts like hell to hear it. I knew that I was supposed to feel absolutely icky walking out of the theater, but I had no idea I'd feel that way as soon as the film started: it begins in a dimly lit, grimy basement, where an unseen person begins torturing a kitten. Using a camcorder, this person transmits this awful footage to a live video feed on the Internet. The website--called killwithme.com--is soon up and running, and under mysterious circumstances, it comes to the attention of Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane), an FBI agent from Portland, Oregon specializing in Internet criminals. She's obviously disgusted by a website showing a tortured animal, but she has yet to learn what it means or even how the website operates.
That quickly changes. The next victim is a shirtless man who's had the website's name carved into his chest. An IV automatically pumps a decoagulant into his body, which prevents his blood from clotting. This means that he'll bleed to death, despite the fact that his chest wounds are relatively minor. But this isn't the worst of it; Marsh soon realizes that the speed of the IV drip is directly related to the number of hits the website gets. In a nutshell, the more hits, the faster the man dies. Sure enough, the hits just keep on coming, and within six hours, the man is dead. Marsh is immediately frustrated because she can't shut the site down--every time she tries, it bounces to a mirror site on a different server and continues to run. It also relies on an original Russian server, meaning the United States has no jurisdiction. In essence, killwithme.com is an untraceable website.
Marsh quickly understands that this case is going to require a lot of planning and precise execution. Assigned to the case with her is Detective Eric Box (Billy Burke)--they both believe that whoever is running the website is purposely seeking attention, and what better way to get it than with press conferences and news reports? An uptight FBI director (Peter Lewis) publicly announces that anyone who visits the website is an accomplice to murder, and of course, his words have the exact opposite effect. That's because there's now a third victim being broadcast on the website, and the hits are greater than they ever were before. I won't continue to describe what the killer actually does to these people, but it's safe for you to assume that, with each person, the methods get more and more unpleasant to watch.
Things take a personal turn when Marsh's daughter, Annie (Perla Haney-Jardine), says that a video of their house is being shown on the computer. Marsh runs outside to find an abandoned car with a camera hooked to the antenna and a dead body in the trunk. Clearly, whoever is running killwithme.com has tapped into her computer's personal files. How and why, she doesn't know. But she'd better find out soon, because the website is featuring yet another victim; as this new person suffers for everyone to see, Marsh finally realizes that each victim is somehow connected to the killer.
But who exactly is the killer? That's the obvious question for any murder mystery, and most of the time, we have to wait until the end for the big revelation. This isn't the case with "Untraceable." The audience actually learns the killer's identity early on--it's more a matter of the characters not knowing until the end. It's also a matter of figuring out the killer's motives, because we all know that a motive makes a murder mystery much more satisfying (although not necessarily more realistic). But in all honesty, the killer's identity is not what drives the story; this film is without a doubt a critical commentary on Internet technology, showing how something so benign can be used to showcase evil things. A minor subplot involves a secret DVD stash of snuff films and suicides--I know perfectly well that such DVDs actually exist and that there's a market for them. What does that say about humanity? Why do we like to watch that horrible stuff? The website in "Untraceable" is not a reflection of a screenwriter's twisted imagination, but of the reality that certain people would happily visit it if it were real.
The film's only weakness is the lack of developed relationships. Marsh is established as a workaholic who rarely spends time with her daughter. Marsh's mother, Stella (Mary Beth Hurt), does most of the nurturing. But not enough of this was shown; at a certain point, both Annie and Stella are sent away for their protection, and we never see them again, which is bad since they could have added so much more to the story. For some, the scenes of torture and murder will be too disturbing to watch, as this movie (correctly) steers clear of campy gore. I know that the image of that poor kitten will haunt me forever, which almost makes me wish I hadn't seen this film in the first place. But when taking into account the clever plot, the tense atmosphere, and the harsh social commentary, it becomes clear that "Untraceable" is too effective to overlook."
Kevin Hunter | Los Angeles, CA | 07/23/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Untraceable? You mean UNreal and UNbelievable. Everything that's been done before is done all over again and done badly. The dialogue is one of the worst, you'll find yourself cringing over some of the lines said in places where no one in their right mind would utter in the particular situation. Even worse cringing over how poorly acted some of the supporting cast delivers those lines. The saving grace? Diane lane for one, does a good job at pulling it off and keeping us interested as well as just the right sprinkle of suspense to keep you peeled to the screen long enough to get to the end debating on if it was worth it or not."
Terrible! Just terrible!
Paper Tiger | Seattle, WA USA | 05/24/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Without disclosing much details, let me just use two scenes to illustrate my point:
1. the opening, when the agent identifies a suspect who uses his neighbor's wireless router to access other people's bank accounts. Now, how does she identifies the suspect? By guessing. He's a programmer, he's a renter, and the most hilarious one, he's registered for 3 hand guns and 2 assault rifles. Let me pause, owning firearm is protected by the constitution, and people, who own, especially "register," their firearm are the ultimate good guys - you cannot buy a gun from grocery store. you must go through a serious background and criminal check first. In fact, more than half of American families own firearm.
Obviously, without any probable cause, the agent orders a raid. That must be sweet!
2. Some time down the trail, the agent claims that the bad guy got into her wireless network and got into her computer etc. OK, I thought the agent was a computer wiz who worked for FBI cyber lab. any half brained IT person would know how to secure their wireless connection, not to mention how to fortify their computers, but a FBI agent doesn't? any decent security would prevent even the most determined hackers - they don't try to break down your firewall and security, they do social engineering. Even they break down the firewall, it's virtually impossible to break in even a well firewalled Windows XP... oh, you are not running Linux, Ms FBI?
Should have at least hired me to be the technical adviser.
Oh, FBI cannot shut down someone's website??? You are joking, right? Even an 8 year old knows that. Just Google it if you don't know!!!"
I want a server that robust!
Smeddley | 07/22/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I understand I have to suspend my disbelief with movies like this, but I wasn't interested enough in the characters to make it worth the effort. And it's not about the people tuning in; a troll through the videos on the internet make it obvious that people would watch it, though I have a hard time believing there were 12 million viewers and the load doesn't crash the site. It's more about the FBI's inability to take down a website. I find that... highly unlikely. Still, I could have overlooked it (goodness knows I'm no computer expert, perhaps it's possible, but there are plenty of governments out there blocking a lot more than a single website...) had the rest of the story been compelling or interesting enough to make me care. If I cared at all about the characters in the story. But I didn't. They were flat and boring and I honestly cared more about his first victim than I did all the others put together.
I suppose there was some high, moral message to the story, in the end, but it was so smothered in... fluff and tedium that it lost any real meaning. It felt like Saw or Hostel without the gore (okay, there was a little bit of icky, but nothing compared to the levels of those movies). Which leave you with a vague plot, some action sequences, and a lukewarm, predictable ending. It's fine for an evening when there's nothing on, or for watching with a group of friends (and throwing popcorn at the screen), but overall you won't be missing out much if you pass it by."