Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I'm not sure if this is Saw for the more mature discerning viewer or Silence of the Lambs for the torture porn crowd. Either way, thanks to Diane Lane's superb performance and mostly strong supporting turns it's actually quite enjoyable. The story itself starts off very well in the first and second act as Lane and her FBI cybercrime unit learn of and track the killwithme.com killer. The film becomes predictable and contrived as the focus changes and moves to the killer infiltrating Lane's character's life. The only thing that makes the late scenes tolerable is Lane's superb performance. She creates both a tough and vulnerable character without it ever feeling contrived. The supporting turns from Billy Burke (who I generally don't like) and Colin Hanks (who has good charisma and timing) help pull the move through it's late tail spin as well. Hoblit's direction is adequate and unspectacular; though he does seem to have a knack for getting great performances out of his actors as seen here and previously with Richard Gere and Edward Norton in Primal Fear and Ryan Gosling in this past year's Fracture. While the film is frequently difficult to watch (violence-wise) it never feels as exploitative or perverse as the Saw/Hostel types. There is, I must mention, one terrible dilemma. The reveal and arc of the killer, and the actor's performance in the role, is both poorly conceived and distractingly awful. It should have been left more mysteriously and anonymously as, for me at least, the terror in this movie derived from the believability of how Americans would react to a 'kill with me' website. The killer doesn't create the fear, it's the believable chatroom comments on the site that really make one squirm. A better script, a better villain or a better method of piecing it all together could have made for one hell of a serial killer thriller. Alas, we have to settle for enjoying a great first half and a superb Diane Lane performance.
Overall Score: 7/10