Monday, January 28, 2008


Although outside my normal viewing preferences, the Goose really wanted to see this since it was filmed in Portland. I figured I would go along and try to figure out which cop was helping the bad guy in a "major plot twist". As it turned out the major plot twist was there was no major plot twist. It was just one guy who was the bad guy, the viewers knew who he was relatively quickly, his motivations were known, and who his victims would be were known.

Untraceable follows Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane), an FBI cyber crimes agent in the FBI. Interestingly, she starts out by ordering the FBI to "knock down a door" in Eugene. Interestingly enough, over a credit card stolen online, the FBI feels compelled to take out a SWAT team to high tech no-knock break down the door and scare the family out of their wits. Now, I am no expert on FBI methodology...but that seems pretty aggressive of a reaction for identity theft. Over the top, unnecessary...and it immediately established the heroes of the piece as bullies and over reactors. I do not believe that was the INTENT of the was meant to show her talent at finding, identifying, and capturing the bad guys....but it was certainly the RESULT.

Not too long after a website called "Kill With Me" is tipped to them. She watches a cat killed. The killing intensifies as more viewers join. She proves unable to track the origin of the web cast. Later, instead of a cat it becomes people.

As the FBI tries to find this guy...missing rather obvious lines of inquiry such as power consumption, by the way...the movie tries to establish camaraderie between Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks), Detective Eric Box (Billy Burke) and Marsh. It fails miserably. They just seem bored more than anything.

Eventually the rather tenuous link of why these people are being murdered is established and it is just a matter of catching Owen Reilly (Joseph Cross), though of course he first must capture Marsh to provide her a chance to escape his death trap and kill him live on his internet broadcast.

The movie feels more like a piece of anti-sick website propaganda than a movie designed to be entertaining. There are numerous monologues about the evils of disseminating these things but them being viewer driven (thus establishing there are people who, for whatever reason, DO want to see it). Now, I am not into the "torture-porn" type movies. Saw a few minutes of one of the Saw train wrecks and frankly found it stupid and repellent. Never saw Turistas or any of the Hostel series and never felt any desire too. Conversely, a lot of people never felt the need to watch some of my favorite movies either...Surf's Up, TMNT, Transformers, The Simpsons Movie for example...and I have no beef with that. Different people, different tastes. But they also did not feel compelled to make a movie protesting those movies while centering their protest on doing the same thing.

Untraceable makes heavy use of disturbing images. Furthermore, while protesting the dissemination of information and images about deaths it makes heavy, heavy use of them and lets a lot of people know about them. I did not know that there were websites in existence showing people's suicides, for example, prior to this movie. Now I do. Interesting protest...bringing awareness to that which you want people to not know about. It even showed maybe a half dozen or so times the suicide that provides the incredibly cheesy and unbelievable motivation for Reilly.

Memo to Gregory Hoblit; if you don't want people to know about this stuff then don't make it the centerpiece of your movie. Just sayin'...

So let's see; weak, unbelievable story with bad acting, counter-productive dialogue and images, a predictable story arc...I wonder how I will rate this train wreck?

1 comment:

Al said...

I was interested in if you recognized any local stuff...I didn't know it was filmed in Oregon even though it's still a renter