Before I even watched "Untraceable", I had one thought: "This is such an Ashley Judd movie." However, Judd must have wanted to head for sunnier fare than she's known for, and in steps the capable Diane Lane. Lane stars as FBI agent Jennifer Marsh, a member of the cybercrime division working in Portland with her partner, Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks).
As the movie opens, Jennifer is investigating a horrifying website called killwithme where a kitten is being starved online. Soon after, Jennifer and her partner are stunned to find that the website has taken things much further and placed a human in peril. The website hooks its victims up to torture devices and the torture happens quicker as the website gets traffic in the millions (doesn't exactly say much about society.)
"Untraceable" clearly wants to be a sleeker, less gritty version of the "Saw" films (and it sorta copies "Feardotcom" and, to some extent, the incredibly dopey "Stay Alive") However, the problems start early and continue throughout the movie, including the fact that the one behind it all is revealed early in the picture. There's also a local cop helping Jennifer - Eric Box (Billy Burke) - but the character is a thinly written cliche that really could almost have been dropped from the story altogether.
The script is rather predictable, but also just doesn't explore the potential behind following a member of the cybercrimes unit. In an era where security cameras are everywhere and technology like GPS is commonplace, the film could have been a decent update of the kind of cyber-paranoia explored in "Enemy of the State" ten years ago.
Diane Lane is a terrific actress with charm and appeal, but she certainly deserves better than this lackluster thriller. Hanks looks like he's about to call his agent and Burke is completely forgettable. Director Gregory Hoblit can't manage to generate much suspense, as the picture shows its cards too early and - despite fine cinematography - Hoblit can't shape the material into anything more than what seems like a TV movie. "Untraceable" acts as if it has a great deal to say about what effect the internet and technology has had on society, but it's really only a matter of trying to put another movie in the assembly line behind the similar ones that came before it.
VIDEO: "Untraceable" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.40:1 (1080P/AVC) This is an excellent transfer of the material. Sharpness and detail are terrific, as Anastas Michos' gloomy cinematography looked slick and well-defined during the majority of the movie. Fine details were very good, as hairs and other small elements were clearly visible. Still, the image fell short in terms of depth, coming up short of that three-dimensional feel. Edge enhancement was not seen, nor were any print flaws. A few traces of noise were spotted, but were hardly visible. The picture's subdued color palette appeared accurately presented, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film is presented with a Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack here. While the film's sound design is not aggressive, there are some instances of surround use that are quite convincing, such as the rain in an early scene or for a helicopter in the distance in another. The rear speakers are not used particularly often, but they do get some occasional use for ambience and minor sound effects. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue, effects and score. We also get French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks.
EXTRAS: The extras are not in HD.
Producer Hawk Koch, director Gregory Hoblit and production designer Paul Eads provide a reasonably good commentary, chatting about shooting on location, story elements that were changed, casting, production obstacles and working with technical advisors. The commentary's rather dry at times, but fans may want to try a listen. We also get a group of featurettes: "Tracking Untraceable", "The Personnel Files", "The Blueprint of Murder" and "The Anatomy of Murder". There's also trailers and a Blu-Ray exclusive fact track. For those who are able to access BD-Live, there is "Beyond the Cyber Bureau", a video commentary.
Final Thoughts: Mediocre material is mediocre material, and both Hoblit and Lane can't add too much tension or interest to "Untraceable". The Blu-Ray edition fares well, offering good audio/video quality and a solid set of supplemental features.
The Film C-