Untraceable DVD review

Take Diane Lane out of this, and there's not too much left. But leave her in? Then cybercrime meets Saw is better than you'd expect...

Diane Lane in Untraceable

In no way can you get to the end credits of Untraceable and declare that you’ve seen anything more than a throwaway Friday night thriller. Its marriage of the Saw films, the Internet and people’s morbid fascination is a fairly obvious cocktail, and there’s not a plot twist in sight that you won’t see coming.

And yet is still has a few things in the mix to lift it above the norm. Chief among them is Diane Lane, in the kind of role that usually goes to the Hollywood leading man. Lane is an underappreciated Hollywood actress who rarely gets the kind of leading role where she can prove it, and she’s very much the glue that holds Untraceable together. She plays FBI agent Jennifer Marsh, a technical wizard who we meet at the start of the film closing in the net on a computer criminal who’s in the midst of downloading passwords and data from her machine. She catches cybercriminals for a living, and she’s damn good at it.

But when the next case comes knocking, things get a lot trickier. For a serial killer, who’s clearly been watching the aforementioned Saw movies, has set up a website where people can view the live torture and eventual death of his victims. It starts with an animal, but doesn’t take long to escalate to humans. As more people click on to watch, the process of the tortures is speeded up, and while Untraceable doesn’t go to the extremities that some in the genre have explored, it can still be a little gruesome to watch.

And yet, even with the less-than-subtle subtext about the rubbernecking nature of human beings, you do just about buy it. This isn’t just about Lane, either, for director Gregory Hoblit also knows how to string good thrillers together. He’s brought us in the past Primal Fear, the underrated Fallen and Frequency, and he also served as a producer on the likes of LA Law, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. The man knows what he’s doing, and while Untraceable never shows much ambition beyond being a decent thriller (and there’s no tension or shock at all building up to the reveal of the killer), it isn’t a bad way to while away a couple of hours.

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The DVD package is as promotional as you’d expect. A series of featurettes examine the casting of Lane, dressing the sets and looking at how the assorted death scenes were filmed. These aren’t bad, but they’re full of talking heads that come out with the usual round-robin of press kit clichés. The two screenwriters are perhaps the most interested, talking about the mix of surgery experience and cybercrime. But it’s still all lacking a little in substance.

A little better is the commentary track from Hoblit, his producer and his production designer. It’s a decent chat where the trio talk about the making of the film, the tight budget and various bits and bobs about the film, yet there’s nothing hugely compelling.

Ultimately, if you treat Untraceable as a workable, unspectacular thriller, then it works. Expect any more, it doesn’t.

And Hollywood? Give Diane Lane more to do. She deserves it.The Movie

3 out of 5
The Disc   
2 out of 5

Rating:

3 out of 5