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Logging in is murder.

Review copyright 2008 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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Live by technology. Die by technology. Any of us who wrap our lives and work around computers understand that theory. We have all been burned by the crashing of our system just before we hit the save button and our hours of hard work are gone forever. And what did we do before the internet? How did we ever find directions or information? Show times, ticket sales, eBay, Amazon, DVD rentals etc. For many of you, simply reading this review is possible only by the World Wide Web. Needless to say it has made our lives simpler. But what of the negative? What about that voyeuristic door that has opened up for all of us to see and hear everything ever imaginable? It has fed our craving for carnage and desensitized our shock meter. There is a passage in the book of Revelations which says, “And for three and a half days, all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will come to stare at their bodies.” 20 years ago the notion that everyone everywhere could witness the same thing at the same time was inconceivable. But is it now? We are a society that must experience it all. We must see it. Feel it. Live it. And to what end?

The new psychotic film Untraceable touches on this subject in a cat and mouse crime thriller. Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) is a single mom by day and FBI agent by night. Her task is discovering and busting internet predators, scam artists, hackers and thieves. Her world is truly web wide. When she gets a tip about a website streaming live coverage of murder victims it is a race against the clock for her, agent Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks) and Detective Eric Box (Billy Burke) to save each new victim. Plus, the killer is using society’s curiosity as an accomplice. The more viewers his site receives, the faster the death of his victim. This adds an eerie twist in the fact that the numbers go up, even with human life at stake.

I liked this movie in the fact that although there are plot holes and gray areas the characters and direction make up for them allowing for a thrilling movie experience. Though not in the league of Silence of the Lambs there are elements of it present in this film. They also borrowed from the box of tricks you would find in the SAW series. Add to this a killer who could have easily had the last name Bates and you get the makings of a top notch, skin crawling, stomach turning crime flick. Owen Reilly (Joseph Cross) is the perfect movie psycho. His soft spoken demeanor and average Joe next door features add to the creep factor of his character. The ensemble cast fits nicely. No one stands out as unbelievable. As mentioned there are holes in this story like any piece of fiction. When dealing with technology you can always make it do what ever is needed to fit the storyline. But that is the fun of it. We deal with the foreshadowing and obvious details in order to experience the ride.

Untraceable is rated R for grisly violence and torture, and some language. Though not as gruesome as SAW it still has moments of prolonged violent images and the twisted mind of a serial killer. The gore is at a minimum and not overdone. The language too is tame for R Rated films and is not thrown around gratuitously. Mentally this film is grand in the way it shines a light on our society and where we are heading as a culture. Our need to see things and the lack of regard for human suffering when compared to rationalizations of freedom. We think we deserve to be able to experience whatever we want, and still be immune from repercussion. I never thought about it much until seeing this film. Then driving to work today the news anchor on the radio was talking about a terrible crime caught on tape and was quick to add, with a shine in her voice, “…and you can see a clip of this tape on our website…” I give Untraceable 3.5 out of 5 webcams. It is a strong film in this genre and one of the better thrillers of late.

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(1/23/08)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and co-hosts a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com

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