As suspenseful thrillers go, 'Untraceable' ticks a lot of the boxes – offering us a relatively fresh plot with decent characters and injecting some jumpy twists into the storyline. At times, it feels a little clichéd, as it spins its moral lesson on society's technology-reliance, but this can be forgiven if it's just some mindless action you're looking for.
FBI Agent Jennifer Marsh (Lane) and her colleague Griffin Dowd (Hanks) are busying fighting cyber crime, from the mundane to the threatening and invasive, but their latest assignment is one that neither of them is fully equipped to deal with.
A serial killer has begun abducting his victims and posting footage of them on the Internet. Not only that, but he has also developed a sophisticated programme that tracks the number of hits on his website, Kill With Me, and inflicts tortures on his victims to correspond with the popularity of his site. The more clicks the website gets, the quicker his victim dies.
Jennifer and Griffin, being at the top of their profession, initially try to outsmart the killer but he has covered all angles and is determined to exact a revenge plan that will eventually include them, unless they can piece the clues together before it's too late.
Now the classic 'race against time' angle may sound all too predictable, but 'Untraceable' does manage to steer clear of the major pitfalls that accompany such tried-and-tested formulas. The story is pacey for the most part, even if it occasionally borders on the dodgy side of far-fetched. On the positive, Diane Lane and Colin Hanks work well together as the struggling parent and her nerdy sidekick.
On the flipside, some of the dialogue veers a little towards the clichéd and corny at times – the single parent compromised in her job because of her fear of orphaning her child; the colleague remembering her partner killed in the line of duty and so on.
But there is something about 'Untraceable' that makes it quite watchable despite its flaws. Maybe it's the distinctly modern take on the classic serial killer movie that makes it more engaging than your average mindless crime thriller – but if asked to describe it afterwards you may just be forced to use those previous four words.