Starring: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks
Directed by: Gregory Hoblit
The Official Site of Untraceable
Discuss Untraceable on the boards!
People are being killed on line. Viewers are tuning in to find live video of people trapped in elaborate contraptions that are slowly killing them. Only it’s not the traps that are killing them but those innocent viewers. You see, with each hit the contraption evolves, slowly drawing blood, adding poison (or whatever dangerous twist the latest trap features) until the person dies violently before the digital stare of rubber-necked browsers every where online.
The Internet has become such an ever-present thing in our lives that’s it’s no surprise a thriller like Untraceable would eventually come a long. A thriller that plays on our curiosities and fits so easily into a medium we find so comfy. I mean, how many random links do you click a day. A hundred? A thousand? You found this place so you obviously spend a little time each day clicking away the working week. Now, of those thousands, very few of them probably have anything to do with something as violent or disturbing as the one featured in Untraceable, but we live in a pretty vicious world and curiosity can beat even the best of us.
Besides, it feels so harmless to follow a link these days. Opening a website and clicking an “Enter” button has become so second nature. Even though the web site in the film, “killwithme.com”, advertises the worst of what men are possible of, there’s a detachment. It doesn’t feel real.
We click through with the comfort that the separation of the Internet will absolve us from any wrong doing in some way, but the truth is, the premise of Untraceable is so brilliant because it’s the true villain that’s absolving himself while he makes us the bad guys at the same time. (Scroll down to the “On the Web” section for more on this as well as the movies “fictional” web site)
Untraceable makes its little commentaries on societies desire for violence and the macabre and says how sad that is, but it thankfully doesn’t linger on it. Points are made and they move on with the story before getting either too preachy or too gruesome. That balance is rare in a world that tends to dwell too long on visuals or ideas that get a strong reaction, and I was glad they found the happy middle ground of proving a point but not slowing things down.
When Agent Jennifer Marsh Diane Lane, a member of the cyber crime division of the F.B.I., comes upon the website, she makes it her main priority to take it down quickly and quietly so that the next victim won’t die even faster. That works out great until the tech savvy mad man behind the site notices her efforts and makes her the new target!
This goes predictably where you’d expect. Marsh and the baddie race to catch one another with the use of high tech gadgetry to speed things up for them and make things interesting for us. While the endgame may be predictable I thought the techno-spin on things kept the movie entertaining far past the average serial killer thriller.
Untraceable advertised itself as a Silence of the Lambs-like serial killer mystery, which isn’t completely off mark, even if it is completely presumptuous of them to compare themselves to a cinematic masterpiece. I mean there’s a reason movies don’t call themselves “This centuries Citizen Kane”. They don’t want to put off people before they even get in the seats. And they don’t want to fall flat on their face when the movie flops.
Thankfully Untraceable shouldn’t be worrying too much about any of that. The theatrical bow was less than impressive, but good enough. Besides, everyone knows that the money is in DVD and it should do fine there. What’s more – the movie is far from bad. It doesn’t exactly capture the kind of cold intensity of performance or shivers down the spine of tone that Lambs effortlessly swept the Oscars with, but it manages to tell a great, believable thriller that had me wincing and gasping at the moments they were probably hoping people would.
Even better, Lane is quite good in the film. She’s got a strong cast around her filling in the pieces but the movie is hers and she’s convinced me that she can hold a movie that relies on more than her late years and sexuality as selling points. I joked in the comic about not knowing what to expect from her in the action sequences and that was true. I’ve of course seen Judge Dredd, but selling a convincing punch or finding the balance between a couple of bruises and buckets of blood has changed in the past 10 years. Thankfully the majority of Lane’s action in the film consists of her running, walking or walking quickly with a gun extended. Pretty much like this picture right here. In fact, if you do a search for images of this movie, about half would consist of her doing this in various kinds or weather. That’s fine. That’s not really what the movie is about. As an agent in the cyber-crime division who does most of her work behind a desk, you wouldn’t expect her to have to pull out a gun in any kind of weather much less every kind, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that the film was more scares than back alley rundowns.
But when it came time to throw down in the closing moments of the film Lane did great. In true Judge Dredd style she… well, I’ll keep it spoiler free, but needless to say she could hold her own against any futuristic space soldier or modern day cyber-thug.
The nature of societies obsessive tendencies with violence and Diane Lane’s abilities at running while holding a gun aside, Untraceable is a great night at the movies. It is efficient with its storytelling and character development and manages to keep the pace and entertainment levels high all the way through not baiting you with false endings or big twists, just good old-fashioned mystery solving in a very high tech sort of way. It’s way better than half the stuff on line.
Rating: 7 out of 10 - For one reason or another this techno-thriller wasn’t able to find an audience when it was released a couple weeks ago. It got lost in the shuffle of Rambo’s big guns and the scourge of modern cinema that is Hannah Montanna, but for those of you into slick cat-and-mouse mysteries told from opposing perspectives, I strongly suggest spending a night with this movie when it comes out on DVD.
That said… I’m not sure I’d by it. I mentioned in the review how efficient the movie was. As odd as it sounds, that’s the sort of thing I really like on DVD. I like little touches that pay off later and often appreciate them so much more the second time around. Untraceable opens by introducing the characters and introducing what they do. Then we see those characters and their methods applied to the movies story. I mean, that’s set-up 101, but it works and I really enjoy coming back to that sort of thing.
But there’s no way I would come back often. I love the movie for what I is but can’t imagine I’d get lost consistently enough in the mystery, murder or character. It’s just another thriller that will have its moment in the sun and then get lost in the DVD jungle.
So, the fake site for Untraceable of course exists on line. If Cloverfield taught us nothing it at least showed us that this sort of wide marketing approach is the right way to go.
The name of the site is Killwithme.com and reluctantly I went there. I considered this a big step since I'd never once had the cahones to go to feardotcom. The big difference of course is that I'm not the one being killed by an internet ghost, I'm just watching and participating in... wait that's not better at all.
Regardless, I went. The first thing I noticed was the counter. I was the 1,121,371 person to visit the site (Those of you that have seen Untraceable know that the number represents something else entirely, but in my naiveté before seeing the film, I just assumed it was a counter.). An x-rayed skull and an "Enter" button dissolved onto screen and I decided to press on. Then the warning came up!
"Visiting the site could cause harm to innocent people. Do you still wish to enter?" Yes/No"
Now, logically I know this is fake. I'm not an idiot, I know this is part of the game, part of the presentation, part of the mystique they're trying to promote. But the warning worked and I clicked "No". Even though I knew better, I just couldn't deal with it if it somehow went the other way. Besides, is there anything on the other side that would be worth the risk? After clicking "No" it congratulated me and informed me that only 9% of people were "brave" enough to make the same choice.
I realize in promoting this that 81% of you will probably go check out the site now and I assume (hope) it will lead to something worthwhile and non-lethal. But how many of us are willing to really take that risk?
Well it’s worth it to mention that not all the characters in today's comic belong to the regular JLCM family. As many of you probably picked up on, the two red-vested theater employees are none other than is Jason and Kurt from Multiplex.
It's been a while since I've drawn any of the Multiplex character's, over a year actually, but I've been known to provide guest strips and just slide them into my own comic when it felt appropriate. There's no sense in making my own theater employees when there's already a fresh group of people for me to work with. Besides… Gordon is cool with it.
If you're new to Multiplex be sure to check out the first downloadable (totally free) issue up at WOWIO Where Gordon has colleted the first 24 strips of the series as well as an additional 7 just to make the (totally free) click worth your time. It's a great way to be introduced to the strip or relive the early adventures for those of you that are already hard core Multi-heads.
88 minutes - Al Pacino’s phone rings and a digitally garbled voice tells him he’s got 88 minutes to live. Done. Ticket sold. Save me a seat in the 4th row and get me a hot dog, I’m so there.
Seriously. In the first 4 seconds of this trailer I knew that I would see 88 Minutes the new film from super producer/sometime director Jon Avnet. Now, granted… I see pretty much everything, but there was just something about that scenario that perfectly sets up the kind of thriller I could see myself growing old with.
The rest of the trailer is just as strong. Misdirection, a conflict in his past, and a strong support system (including William Forsythe, Alicia Witt, Benjamin McKenzie and Neal McDonough) are the makings of a really strong thriller. And then of course there’s the clock.
Throughout the trailer Pacino’s character is continuously reminded of how much time he has left. 66, 52, 16… on and on, and because it’s 88 minutes, roughly the run time of your average Hollywood action adventure, it’s a safe bet that the entire film will be told in real time. You know, 24 style. I love a movie with a clock, a timetable, a deadline, because it keeps things moving and it builds a very natural tension even if it is just some whack-job on the phone.
In less positive news, apparently the movie has been in the can since 2006, released sporadically in some foreign markets, and testing poorly state side. I wouldn’t be too surprised. Pacino is a legitimate master of his craft, but he’s still stumbled ass backwards into some awful films. With an April release date we have a few months wait to confirm any of this but I’m keeping my hopes high after this sharp little trailer.
On Thursday of this week the movie Jumper comes out and we’re celebrating the release with a couple big events. First, Jumper is the subject of the second edition of the JLCM Book Club. For those of you that have read the book, follow that link to the thread where we’ll be discussing the movie, the source material, and how the two measure up with each other. For those of you that have not read the book, I highly recommend it. It’s a light and breezy read with great subject matter and a fun approach told in a very smooth way.
Secondly, I’ve decided to hold a little Jumper-themed contest. A contest that will allow one lucky reader to appear in the Jumper edition of Joe Loves Crappy Movies. Here's what you have to do to play along: In the spirit of Jumper's tag line "Anywhere is possible" write down in 25 words or less where you would jump to if "anywhere" truly were possible. It could be your grandma's house, the shores of Hawaii, the top of a mountain, anywhere - be creative. And while naming a place should take slightly less that 25 words (DUH), I want you to tell me not just where, but why. What's so special about your Grandma's house? I think it smells like soup.
Pick your words carefully because they will most likely end up in the strip. That's why I'd like you to keep it short. I don't want to be stuck at my computer trying to jam your deep thoughts about London’s east end into a 3 inch x 3 inch square.
To enter head to this thread on the boards and post your write up along with a photo of yourself. Guest posting is available for those of you not ready to make a big commitment, but don't be shy. We're a good crowd. Please do this no later than Tuesday because I really should get to work on this strip ASAP.
Now get to it! Because if there are no really strong entrees I'll just end up using The Grimace… which… actually might be funnier…
In other news, I received a bit of an Internet lashing over the past couple days for my not-so-subtle campaigning for Tiger in the heated race to become the next racer in the Turtle vs. Bunny race series. What can I say? He's adorable. But at the time Tiger was getting beaten severely by your votes and I wanted to keep things interesting. With that in mind I offer a spotlight of the current underdog Dwight "Pandamonium" Panda.
In Tiger's resurgence Panda has totally been Romney'd out of the running. I'm making a plea for new voters to consider this tech savvy runaway with a heart of gold (see his bio). Also be sure and check out the current Turtle and Bunny fun in the brand new Turtle vs. Bunny: Distractions storyline that's updating every M/W/F.
Ok, that's it for now gang, but thanks so much for reading and stop by tonight for a comic and review of the number one movie in America Fool’s Gold as well as the latest edition of the Triple Feature!
Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!
Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V