Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Diane Lane, Colin Hanks, Billy Burke, Joseph Cross
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Video Commentary
It has been rather quiet around Diane Lane in recent years with only a few low-key movies to show for. With "Untraceable" she is back with a fierce performance that will undoubtedly bring her back on the radar of many Hollywood filmmakers. This dark thriller by Gregory Hoblit is now coming to Blu-Ray Disc and it is quite the ticket.
Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) is a cyber-crime special agent in the FBI where tracks hackers, identity thieves and other criminals using the Internet as their turf. Together with her partner Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks) they make an incredibly smart and resourceful team. Tracking down even the most elusive cyber-criminals.
One day a new website pops up with the title "Kill With Me." The site shows a kitten being tortured live, but with an evil twist. The more people log on to the site to witness the event, the stronger the torture gets and the fast the cat dies. Upon seeing this, Marsh and Dowd are convinced that this is not just some prank, and they fear for the worst. Hiding behind a cloak of proxies and a lot of technical wizardry the origin of the site remains elusive, constantly vanishing behind mirror servers and popping up with new IP addresses.
Their agents' fears are proven correct when after a few days of dormancy, the site becomes active again, this time showing streaming live video of a man being tortured to death. And once again with the evil twist that the more people watch, the faster he is going to die, turning each and every visitor to the site into an accessory to murder. From there the events accelerate as the wits of the FBI and the killer are pitted against each other in a race against time.
Despite some minor logical flaws, I found "Untraceable" incredibly gripping. Many times its dark, brooding atmosphere reminded me of David Fincher's masterpiece "Se7en," but clearly without ever attempting to copy that film. It is the terrifying fear of being unable to do something about this evil, the dark atmosphere of an unrelenting killer who could be lurking everywhere and always seems to be one step ahead. It is a terror that settles in your bones as you watch the film, making for some truly creepy moments that give you chills. Syncopated by some incredibly gruesome and graphic imagery of the victims, the film is every bit as unsettling as it is memorable. The only real complaint I have is the movie's ending which unravels so quickly that it will take you a second to realize that it is really over. This "That was it?" moment sadly pulls down the overall impression of the movie, I found, but certainly doesn't change the fact that I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film.
As mentioned above, Diane Lane is putting in a powerful performance that firmly roots the film. Her emotions and fears are tangible and typically she expresses and acts the way you would expect someone in her position to act – with one or two minor exceptions, maybe. She is a strong heroine that is self-reliant, yet still vulnerable, and most importantly stretched to the breaking-point under the burden on her shoulders. Complemented by solid performances from Colin Hanks and Billy Burke, the movie makes quite an impression.
Presenting the movie in its original 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio, the Blu-Ray Disc version that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has prepared here is also nothing to sneeze at. Given the dark look of the film with plenty of super-blacks, a solid transfer is essential for any decent presentation of this film. Gladly this 1080p high definition transfer is making sure every little bit of detail is reproduced properly. The blacks are as deep and solid as they get, masterfully rendering every bit of picture information, no matter how dark or shadowy the shot may be. Highlights are strong but never bleeding and edges are delineated as if cut out with a razor blade. While the transfer offers vivid colors at times, the focus is once again to perfectly reproduce the cold, desaturated look of the movie's cinematography, and the transfer more than excels.
To perfect the intense presentation of the movie, the disc comes with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital TrueHD audio track in English and French. It brings to life the atmosphere of the movie with subtle ambient effects and extremely directional, explosive surround effects. The transparency of the track is remarkable and definitely noticeable, especially during the more intense scenes. Dialogues are very well integrated and never drowned out by the effects or the music. The score is very minimalistic for the most part, almost reminiscent to "Halloween" in some ways, building a strong recurring leitmotif that help build suspense.
Sony has included a number of extras on the release, such as a commentary track featuring director Gregory Hoblit, producer Hawk Koch and production designer Paul Eads. This track offers a lot of valuable insight into the production and the genesis of the movie. It's certainly a great addition to the release, adding additional depth to the story.
The disc also contains four featurettes, covering various aspects of the film's production. "Tracking Untraceable" is a making-of featurette, though it covers not so much the actual production of the movie but the preparation for it. Looking at the evolution of the script, the casting process etc. the featurette offers insight into the steps the project went through before making it to the screen.
Other featurettes are "Untraceable: The Personnel File," "The Blueprint of Murder" and "The Anatomy of Murder," each of them dissecting a different aspect of the movie.
As an exclusive feature for the high definition version, this release also contains a picture-in-picture video commentary that is filled with interview clips, behind the scenes footage, phots, storyboards and all sorts of elements relevant to the movie, as it progresses.
"Untraceable" is probably the best thriller of its genre since "Se7en" and "Silence Of The Lambs" despite its weak ending. In addition to its interesting theme, its strong social commentary and the indictment of the Internet culture, it is a true nailbiter. The fact that in some ways it is predictable works to its advantage as it helps the viewer paint gruesome images in their mind that may yet to come. Check out "Untraceable" if you have the guts for it. It is a movie you will remember.