Untraceable (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

As the internet becomes more and more ingratiated into our daily lives, there’s no doubt that both good and bad things will come out of it. Just yesterday, I lost connectivity for a few hours and I felt like I was missing out on something (I wasn’t, but it felt that way). There’s a multitude of information out there, literally at our fingertips and there’s no denying that having that sort of access to information is very handy. But, there are those out there that program viruses and have some sites that aren’t too friendly. Such is the case with “Untraceable”, a story of a man who kills people on his web site, and the more people who log on (i.e. “watch”), the faster they die. What a novel concept? We’ve also been so exposed to the internet for some time now that movies about it aren’t exactly what they used to be. Mid to late 90’s films like “The Net” and “Hackers” seem trendy and dated, but as we discover more and more uses for the online world it seems that there are those who will continue to use it for the wrong purpose.

The plot has already been explained, but here’s a refresher. Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) is a FBI agent based in Portland, Oregon. She and her crew are assigned to take down hackers who steal bank information and break the laws of the online world. It so happens that she stumbles across a site in which a man is being tortured. Thousands of people log on to “watch” and the more that do so cause the man to die quicker. Naturally they can’t have this continue, so they’re onto a trail only to continue to lose innocent civilians. As we might guess, the chase gets personal and Agent Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks) is a victim. Will Agent Marsh and what’s left of her team be able to track down this psycho killer or will he continue to kill people online with the help of everyone watching?

“Untraceable” isn’t a bad movie, per se. In fact, if it were truly original I’d have loved it. What got to me was that I was instantly reminded of these “serial killer” movies. Films like “The Bone Collector”, “The Watcher” and even the “Saw” series of films all had influence on this movie, to be sure. Diane Lane, a fine actress, is merely taking the reigns that others in her character’s position have played, though Lane has a daughter in this film. There’s nothing new or fresh to it, save for the online aspect of it. Ironically, the web site in the film, www.killwithme.com is a fully-functioning site that I found a bit more entertaining than the film itself. Lane does fine in her role, though I can imagine any number of actresses in her role doing just as good. And as for director Gregory Hoblit, well I wish he’d do more films like “Primal Fear” and “Fallen”, both much better movies that kept my attention for a much longer amount of time.

Video: How does it look?

Portland must be a pretty bland place to live because in the entire movie I don’t think I saw one patch of blue sky or one scene where it wasn’t raining. Perhaps it was coincidence, but they shouldn’t show “Untraceable” as a ploy to get you to visit Oregon. That aside, the 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer looks pretty darn good. The color palette is very muted and flesh tones look a bit washed out (most likely due to the scenery) and parts of the movie are very dark, filmed in basements that look surprisingly good in terms of black levels. I noticed a bit of softness in a few of the wider shots, though for a new to Blu-ray movie, this essentially delivered what I expected a great-looking transfer with very little to complain about.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack didn’t really give the speakers much of a workout. About halfway though, I remembered that this was, indeed, an uncompressed soundtrack but the film simply doesn’t really take advantage of it. Most of the action comes in the front stage, with the surrounds kicking in only occasionally. There was nothing that particularly stood out as being good or memorable and though that’s not always necessary, it certainly can’t hurt. Dialogue sounded adequate with the front speakers handling the load, audio-wise, just fine. “Untraceable” won’t be a movie remembered for its soundtrack, that’s for sure.

Supplements: What are the extras?

We do get some pretty interesting supplements with this film starting off with an audio commentary by director Gregory Hoblit, producer Hawk Koch and production designer Paul Eads. The trio is fairly talkative and mainly speak of the shoot and the set details. True fans of the movie are bound to love this, but it seemed like a lot of fluff to me. There are four featurettes that are shown as well dealing with the shoot, the subject matter and the props of the death scenes. A trailer is included, but for other Sony films and not this one. Lastly, we do get a Blu-ray exclusive video commentary (picture in picture) entitled “Beyond the Cyber Bureau” in which we get some of the recycled material from the featurettes as well as some thoughts from the actors. It spices up the film for sure, but this is only the beginning of what Blu-ray is capable of and I’m excited to see where it can go from here.

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