Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Untraceable Is Undesirable

by D. E. Carson (writer), , January 31, 2008


Billed as The Silence of the Lambs for the Internet age, this waste of celluloid isn't even close.

Rarely do I write a movie review on the fly like this, but I couldn't wait any longer. If you haven't seen Untraceable with Diane Lane, you haven't missed anything. If you paid money to go see it on opening weekend, you're just S.O.L.

There are only two positive aspects of this movie. Diane Lane is the first. No amount of late twentieth century urban street dweller clothing can hide how hot he is. Her character, Jennifer Marsh, is a cyber-crimes investigator attached to the Portland, Oregon field office of the FBI. This chick knows more about the Internet than most high school kids today will ever know. Now for the second positive about the movie. Marsh (Lane) is explaining to her colleagues what bad guy Owen Reilly (played in an almost typecast manner by actor Joseph Cross) is doing to make sure he isn't found. As she is spewing technical jargon, her boss, field office director Richard Brooks (played by Peter Lewis) gets a glazed look in his eyes. When Marsh finishes her dissertation, Brooks blinks and says, "I have no idea what you just said."

Collin Hanks takes a turn at exercising his chops in the family business (he is the son of Oscar winner Tom Hanks) as Griffin Dowd, a young, up and coming FBI field agent in the cyber-crimes division who is still somewhat akward, we assume, with women. The closest he gets to one in the movie is nearly running over his own date to Marsh's daughter's birthday party at the local skating rink. Dowd is rushing out of the rink with Marsh and Portland Police Detecive Eric Box (played by Billy Burke) to return to the FBI office to watch another of Reilly's victims die on line.

Reilly is a by-the-book serial killer. He's predictable. Something happened to upset his world and he plans to get his revenge by killing everyone involved (SPOILER ALERT: his dad committed suicide and it was broadcast on the local TV news and the footage ended up all over the Internet). Reilly decides to use the Internet as his forum and American web surfers as his weapon. The more people who visit his site, the faster the victim dies, except for the first victim, a poor kitten who dies of starvation stuck to an adhesive-type rat trap inches away from a bowl of milk.

Why am I giving away most of the movie? Because, it's billing as The Silence of the Lambs for the Internet age is a joke. In both movies, a female FBI agent pursues a serial killer. There, the similarities diverge like east from west. Silence was a psychological thriller. Untraceable is a blood, gore, and guts, veins in my teeth, eat dead burnt bodies right up in your face slasher movie lacking only a goalie's mask and a chainsaw. The first human victim bleeds to death. The second is cooked to death with heat lamps. The third, our loveable, but rather transparent Dowd (Hanks) is boiled in a tank of battery acid -- the tank starts as just water, but as the number of visitors increases so does the amount of sulfuric acid pumped into the tank. As this happens we are blessed with watching as Dowd's skin literally peels from his body and his blood and other bodily fluids are released into the mix. Later when the ordeal is over and Reilly's lair is found, we see only Dowd's head and shoulders above the water and his skeleton in the tank. Lovely image there. Our fourth intended victim is Marsh herself who, as one might imagine in a movie as predictable as this, finds a way to outsmart her nemesis and pump him full of lead from her standard issue 9mm semi automatic, all while the Internet watches live.

If I could find a way to get Sony Pictures (who owns Screen Gems, the distributor) to give me my money back for that lost 100 minutes of my life, I would certainly pursue it. The plot is thin enough to read today's newspaper through it. It is predictable. It is boring -- I stopped counting the number of times I looked at my watch at 53 and that was only 15 minutes into the movie. There was no "thrill". If you're into watching people tortured to death you probably need to be in a mental institution and frankly the celluloid expended for this so-called movie would have been better used as the plastic cover over the next issue of Playboy.

On a scale of 1 to 5, this movie gets a -10. To say I hated this one is an understatement of epic proportions.  Instead of seeing this movie, go rent Smokey and the Bandit and bask in the knowledge that you're watching a movie with real entertainment value and saving about six bucks in the process.

About the Writer

D. E. Carson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on Untraceable Is Undesirable

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By Ariel on January 31, 2008 at 02:19 am

I love reviews of terrible movies, they are definitely the most entertaining.

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By Steven Lane on January 31, 2008 at 01:19 pm

Where can you see a movie for $6?

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By Jen on January 31, 2008 at 04:46 pm

My favorite thing about the movies are the commercials they show you before the show after you've offered up your first born just to see the dang thing.  After that I absolutely love and adore the people that text throughout (like we can't see the light of your phone down front).  After that I want to make sweet love to the people that answer their phone in the theatre and begin the conversation as they walk down the aisle to finish in the lobby.  To those people I would like to offer thanks not only for being so polite as to take your conversation out side AND for not letting any of us miss out on the knowledge of how truly popular you are.

Netflix rocks.

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By D. E. Carson on January 31, 2008 at 10:11 pm

Well, figure Untraceable costs about $9 to see in the theatre and renting Smokey and the Bandit would cost around $3 at the local video store, so there's your $6.

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By M.J. Hamada on February 01, 2008 at 03:58 am

Haha, Smokey and the Bandit, huh.  Thanks for your review.  If you'd like to review another bad movie, try The Eye, which opens Friday.  The original (the Pang brothers' film) was okay, not mind-blowing, and this American version's gonna make Hooper seem like a work of art.

There's a theater in Culver City - on Washington Blvd., across from Sony - that charges three bucks for movies before 5 p.m.  And after 5, it's still only about $6.  They get their movies about a week or two after the release maybe I can catch Untraceable there this weekend?

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By D. E. Carson on February 01, 2008 at 11:29 pm


I'm not really into watching bad movies on purpose.  I liked Silence of the Lambs and with this one being billed as on the same level, I went to see it not knowing what I was getting into.  I saw the previews of The Eye while waiting for wait, I mean Untraceable to start.  Just from the previews I can tell that The Eye is going to be another waste of celluloid.  In fact, my comment after the previews ended was, "Remind me to forget to go see that."  If I were you, I'd avoid Untraceable if I could.  There isn't enough in it to even grab the attention of Internet geeks like me -- I guess they didn't want to give out too many ideas.


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By M.J. Hamada on February 02, 2008 at 01:09 am

I hear ya, D.  Yeah, I'm an oddball in that I will go see a bad movie - if I can see it for three bucks, ha.  But even with bad movies, there are different categories, classifications.  The bad movies that really irk me are those that are supposed to be good movies.  You're all geared up for some big deal, and then it blows.  The hugest example of this type of thing happening is with The Phantom Menace.  Lucas had, what, 20 years to imagineer that thing, and he decided to go the route of a who-cares, wooden-acting video-game look?  I dig the whole Star Wars universe for its mythos and nostalgia, but those prequels, come on (although Sith did have its moments).  And the same thing happened with the Matrix sequels.  And, for me, Spider-Man 3.  But I seem to be in the minority there.

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