untraceableDirected by: Gregory Hoblit.

Written by: Robert Fyvolent & Mark Brinker.

Starring: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks and Joseph Cross. 101 min. R.

Review top sheet: my most reliable source of Hollywood pap to mock – Oktyabr’ Cinema on Noviy Arbat – has ceased showing English films till further notice, citing legal issues, so I will be dissecting DVDs in the absence of anything else in the city.

Untraceable – which in Russian rejoices under the title Не оставляющий следа – is interesting for all the wrong reasons. Clearly, the thorn in the side of the US military industrial complex is a free Internet: why won’t the herd just download its views directly into its subconscious mind from CNN and Fox? Well, 98% already does. But there’s always that pesky 2% who insist on thinking for themselves – and the Internet is their greated resource. So Internet 2 is on its way. And films like this are to prepare the ground.

Will you like this film?

  • Yes, if you have had a lobotomy.
  • No, if you didn’t get all your jabs when you were a child and still have some critical-thinking function left.
  • Maybe, if you are into dissecting propaganda.


General comments: entertainment is how we receive a lot of our programming. The critical function switches off, and we receive in fiction format ideas and assumptions we would baulk at in any other guise.

Clearly, the “big idea” (to quote Bush the Elder) includes ending Net neutrality. You may not have noticed, but freedom is passé. The West no longer wants a world where you can choose what to read – good, bad and indifferent. It needs total State control of every facet of our lives – to keep us safe from those who “hate our freedoms”.

Thus, the Internet needs to be castrated. The question is how to do it. Answer: create fictions in which there is a cast-iron case for government closing down one site. Once that mental hurdle has been cleared, it’s just a matter of applying the principle over a broadening range until it includes everything the US government has a problem with: which would start with any site out there which exposes their crimes both at home and abroad and end with your MySpace page because they don’t like your face.

Untraceable is subtle. The FBI agents are caring, decent, noble. The Internet guys are sweaty, bearded weirdoes sitting in basements. When the FBI kicks in your door and SWAT-teams you, it’s a natural and just act. The implication is that the State is to be trusted and private citizens are not, never mind that domestic governments are historically the greatest threat to any population.

In the US and the UK the police state is firmly in place. In the US you have no right of assembly, the police has been militarised and the law of habeas corpus is out the window. In the UK, they are creating a total DNA database, have one surveillance camera for every 14 people and can arrest you without charge or right to counsel for up to 28 days (soon to be increased to 42 days). The truth is: the last thing we can or should trust is the government. The mainstream media is craven. The one place where freedom truly exists is on the Internet.

But the impressionUntraceable leaves you with is that the State need more powers – lots of them – and that if it doesn’t get total control of the Internet, civilisation as we know it will come to a halt.

Not difficult to work out where the funding for the film came from.

Out-of-five star ratings:

  • Story: *
  • Acting: **
  • Substance: *
  • Film craft: ***


Story comments: a standard mind-conditioning conduit in the form of a template-driven thriller.

Acting comments: not bad, but then the raw material was hardly inspiring.

Substance comments: Internet = bad. Police tracking your every movement and kicking your door in and raiding your house with automatic weapons = good.

Film craft comments: competently put together as far as it goes.

A taste of the story: a cyber killer has finally found the perfect accomplice: you.

Published by The Moscow News.

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