Cyber thrillers are always in danger of being outdated by the time they arrive in theaters, especially if the core concept revolves around a flash-in-the-pan fad that could die out at any second. 2008’s Untraceable arrived right at the height of the “torture porn” craze, but in attempting to criticize the unnecessarily gruesome phenomenon, it wound up being cinematically hypocritical.
Diane Lane stars as an FBI agent, who acts as part of a task force dealing with cyber-criminals. As a veteran, the actress’ Jennifer Marsh thinks there’s nothing left that could possibly shock her, until a livestreaming killer appears on the scene. The serial murderer posts videos of his crimes online for all to see, forcing the feds to track down his latest victim before time runs out, which all plays out in front of a watching audience.
It’s an interesting concept, but Untraceable completely misses all of the points that it tries to make. The film aims to expose, condemn, and criticize online fascination with the grisly and gruesome (not to mention torture porn as a whole), but by the third act it devolves into a succession of cliches that actively embraces those exact tropes and trappings for shock value and supposed entertainment.
We say “supposed”, because Untraceable was widely panned by critics and largely shunned by audiences, at least until this weekend. As per FlixPatrol, the unpleasantly pandering feature has made a splash on the Netflix charts, where it’s even managed to land a Top 10 spot in the United Kingdom. Take it for what it is, and maybe you’ll have fun.