Film review: Untraceable

2008-04-28 00:00

DIANE Lane has generally been quite a bland lead actor in a few rather ordinary movies. So what should you expect from a thriller where Lane is the leading light of an otherwise unknown cast — bland and ordinary might be a good guess.

Untraceable is predictable and follows the well-trodden, overused serial killer chase movie format. It is only that the plot — of the serial killer profiler, who is specifically targeted by the murderer — has been used too many times before, as has the same cop character, the secret service agent, the psychologist, etcetera.

So what have the makers of Untraceable come up with to supposedly offer a new spin on the genre?

Lane is an FBI agent who specialises in going after hackers and Internet transgressors from the safety of an office, sitting behind a set of hi-tech computers. Out of the blue, a site appears on which a serial killer murders his victims in a gruesome, and rather unbelievable, manner. The number of hits on the site increases the speed of the victim’s demise.

Unsurprisingly, Lane’s character turns out to be the main target. With little depth to it and a one-size-fits-all storyline (complete with tough-guy cop protector-figure) that has simply been adapted to a new career for the lead character, the film fails to draw the viewer in.

It seems to be the subtle details that are the difference between a good and bad film in this genre. Take Lane’s character’s relationship with her daughter — a doting mother sassy enough to be able to relate to the teenager at her own level, resulting in a settled 12-year-old who gets along with her mom and live-in grandmother.

Does this scenario really exist? Perhaps, but surely 90% of the time things are a little more complex. But it’s just a movie, so why should it be real? Well, surely the more the characters are based in reality, the more you will give a damn if they live or die.

The same goes for the hi-tech, glitzy office environment the FBI agents work in. In life it’s guaranteed to be more ordinary, and is that not the sort of detail that draws a viewer into a movie.

If you have a hectic schedule, are overworked and need to find a way to pass an evening or a Sunday morning in a mind-numbing state of lethargy, Untraceable might not be that bad a choice. If you’re looking for a little more, it would. **

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