Horror / Thriller
Distributed By: Sony Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
There was a reason that I didn’t want to see the movie Untraceable. I have an issue with movies like this – horror-filled thrillers that take messy murders to a new psychotic level. So when my friend - someone who has repeatedly condemned the Saw movies for the same reason - suggested we rent Untraceable, I was surprised. After all, this movie seemed to be on the same level as those very same Saw movies she refused to see. Shrugging my shoulders, we proceeded to the cashier and paid for our rentals.
In Untraceable, we meet Special Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane), a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s internet crimes division. Day in and day out, Marsh and her fellow agents hunt down and prosecute people who use the internet to commit such crimes as fraud, soliciting minors and more. But Marsh is about to match wits with a new type of cyber-criminal – one who enlists the help of internet users everywhere to commit murder. He sets up the scenario and the number of hits his site gets determines how quickly his victims die. As Marsh hunts down this demented murderer, the case becomes personal and the hunter soon becomes the hunted.
The movie opens with a scene that turned me off immediately. Being an animal lover, I was repulsed as I watched an adorable kitten set up in an elaborate torture scheme – a food bowl set up in front of glue traps, the kitten having no choice but to walk over the glue in order to reach the food. Flash forward to a view of the kitten lying dead on the glue traps, eyes still trained on the food bowl just out of reach. Not cool! Of course, the movie perp follows up this demented bit of torture by focusing his attention on human victims, much to the delight of his viewing audience.
Having researched Untraceable while reviewing the movie’ssoundtrack, I had no desire to see this film. It takes an incredibly imaginative and demented mind to create the elaborately designed horrific murders in movies like Untraceable. I always think to myself that these movies only serve to give the already loony members of our society more ideas as to how to prey on others. I also take issue with the idea that people usually attend these movies to watch the new and elaborate ways in which characters are made to suffer. There’s a sick sort of curiosity in some people that makes them want to watch shock movies and videos. Movies like this embrace that behavior rather than warn against it…or do they?
If you are really paying attention to this movie, you’ll discover that there is a message being sent here. The more people viewing the killer’s site, the more hits he gets and the faster and more hideously the victim dies. The more press coverage, the more hits, despite numerous pleas for people not to view the site because they would, in effect, be accomplices to murder. And that is the harsh reality of this movie – although the murderer sets up these elaborate torture schemes, he doesn’t actually do the killing. He provides the means for the murder, but those who view the site and write messages on the running chat are the real responsible parties. And those messages – if you plan on seeing Untraceable, play close attention to some of the sick messages left by the viewers of the site.
So, the one positive note of Untraceable is actually the social commentary being made about today’s society. And before you think to yourself that I’m making a big deal out of nothing, keep this in mind: I worked with four other people on my shift once and out of the five of us, four loved to watch shock videos in which people were beaten to a pulp, mauled by animals, were hit by cars, etc. The value of shock videos has escalated so incredibly that we now have teens filming themselves as they beat upon others and posting these beatings on YouTube.
Besides Diane Lane’s excellent performance in this film, that social commentary was the one positive thing I got out of watching Untraceable. Otherwise, I could have passed up on this movie and never felt like I had missed out on anything.