For more than a year I avoided Untraceable. Figuring it more Hostel- meets- CSI than a decent thriller, I passed it up at Blockbuster, and pushed it deep into the que.
Torture porn ain't my thing.
Faced with little from which to choose on a Friday night, I allowed Mrs. Film Geek to talk me into watching the flick. Her reasoning was solid: Diane Lane, the lead, doesn't have a torture port resume. And she seems to select projects that are slow-paced and tell good stories.
So, I gave in.
Widowed Special Agent Jennifer Marsh (Lane) and her partners are members of a federal task force that specializes in cyber crime. After stumbling upon a sophisticated web site that streams live executions over the Internet, Marsh leads the effort to track down the killer before he tracks down her.
Webmaster Owen Reilly, played by Joseph Cross, has developed a bizarre twist to his serial killing: how quickly his victims die is related directly to how many hits his website gets. After the first couple of murders, millions of people around the world log on, causing fast deaths for several of his victims.
That's before, of course, Marsh and the cyber-agents find Reilly and bring him down.
Untraceable is not a great movie, but it is better than I expected. It's not torture porn; in fact, the death scenes are often inter-mixed with other scenes, which serves to reduce the creepy factor and leave a lot to the imagination. The acting is okay, and the story is fine. But it's the message of Untraceable that stands out to me as the most important aspect of this movie.
We are drawn to the misery of others. That quality, added to the societal isolation that has developed during the last decade, allows us to desensitize ourselves to that misery. We may well be very close to the citizens of ancient Rome, who filled their arenas to watch violence and death.
Except our arena is the Internet.