Sunday, January 27, 2008


This is a high-tech version of any of the torture movies, though it is more akin to Silence of the Lambs than the Saw franchise. Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting this at all on the same playing field as Silence of the Lambs, I'm just saying it's more along that vein, being about the investigators more than the victims.

Diane Lane plays Jennifer Marsh, an FBI agent investigating cyber-terrorism. She stumbles across a site streaming the deaths of a man's murder victims. It's rigged so that the more people who visit the site, the faster the person dies. From the beginning this seems to be an utterly absurd premise, though it is interesting taking the individual claustrophobia of Saw or Hostel, and broadcasting it to the whole world. So Marsh and her colleagues now have to find out who this is, and how to stop him.

Now I don't know much about computers, so I can't really attest to how accurate anything in this movie is, but some of it just sounded kind of unbelievable. A completely untraceable website that's being seen by millions of people? And the funniest line in the movie: "He hacked into my car's computer." Whether it's able to be done or not, the movie did not convince me. The part I did like, however, was that the breakthroughs in the investigation were done through very low-tech means. In a CSI world where technology is king, this was kind of refreshing.

There were a couple of scenes that really drove home the Silence of the Lambs comparison. Agents sitting around trying to connect seemingly impossibly related points. Unfortunately this time the reached the conclusion of a completely idiotic motivation. I almost starting getting into the movie, because there were some genuinely thrilling moments (a camera appearing outside of Marsh's house). As everything starts to wrap up at the end, though, it all starts to fall apart.

This could be an interesting commentary on free speech, and the power of the internet, but it's really just a scary movie. It could also have been an interesting gritty psychological thriller, but the whole high tech nature of it kind of prevents that. It's tough to bring together the grimy nature of the serial killer and the polished gloss of the cyber-world. It was a nice attempt, and succeeded at a few things, but overall it really didn't work.


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