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(2008), R [13-R*] (2hr 14min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
June 8, 2008
June 16, 2008

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2008), R [13-R*] ... intensely gruesome and deeply graphic in ...

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Cohen / Pearl Productions, Lakeshore Entertainment
Distribution (US): Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Director(s): Gregory Hoblit
Producer(s): Andy Cohen, Hawk Koch, Gary Lucchesi, James McQuaide, Steven Pearl, Sarah Platt, Eric Reid, Tom Rosenberg, Richard S. Wright
Screenplay: Robert Fyvolent, Mark Brinker, Allison Burnett
Story: Robert Fyvolent, Mark Brinker
Cinematography/Camera: Anastas N. Michos
Music: Christopher Young
Film Editing: Gregory Plotkin, David Rosenbloom
Casting: Deborah Aquila, Jennifer L. Smith, Mary Tricia Wood
Production Design: Paul Eads
Art Direction: Michael L. Mayer
Viewed on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD

Well, folks. Another analysis report to you some weeks after the film's release, useless to those who have, over the years, come to look to CAP analyses of new releases for help to determine the suitability of an unseen film. But at least this report is still useful to those who have waited for the film to come out on video. That is the way it is and will be until we can find enough funding for fulltime and dedicated operation. Would anyone like to help locate and secure funding for this nonprofit 501(c)(3) Christian ministry?

Untraceable is an odd film. Odd in distribution of assaults on morality and wholesome ethics anyway. Out of more than 1200 analyses so far this film is the fourth 13-R. "13-R" means a film that earned a CAP final score equivalent to PG-13 films in the comparative baseline database but is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Let me explain.

Untraceable is intensely gruesome and deeply graphic and is fully equivalent to "hardcore" R films in content found by the Wanton Violence/Crime (W) investigation area. It is pure evil in Wanton Violence/Crime. However, Untraceable is

  • equivalent to "hardcore" PG-13 in Impudence/Hate (I) and Murder/Suicide (M) (each at one point above the scoring range earned by R-rated films)
  • equivalent to PG in Offense to God (O)
  • equivalent to "hardcore" G in Sexual Immorality (S) and Drugs/Alcohol (D).

    Maybe the following table will help put the content distribution into perspective. Each score and scoring range shown is out of a maximum of 100 points:

    It is the refreshingly high scores in Sexual Immorality (S) and Drugs/Alcohol (D) that brought the final score (the average of the six investigation area scores) up out of the miry quicksand pit of "R." The writers simply did not include all the sexual and drug / alcohol / smoking content typical of the R stamp. Wonderful! But be not deceived by the "sheep's clothing" effect of the two comparatively high investigation area scores of 88. This film is as "R" as "R" can be in violence and gore and the "almost R" scores due to content found by Impudence/Hate (I) and Murder/Suicide (M) fortify its "R" stamp. The relatively high scores in two of the six investigation areas is what brought the final score up into the PG-13 scoring range.

    And what is the point to all this talk about the scoring? Since you've asked, I'll tell you. :-)

    The point to all this is to present yet again one of the great features of the CAP analysis model. The MPAA targets what they think is the most severe content and then applies their rating to the film based only on the most severe content. While this is good in its own right it is intensely incomplete in terms of the objective of the MPAA to "inform" parents. The CAP analysis model gives you objective scores in six areas and lets YOU decide for yourself the fitness of a film based on its content. The CAP analysis model makes no assumptions regarding age-appropriateness -- that is YOUR job, not the job of the MPAA. The CAP analysis model gives you, for example, awareness that Untraceable is intensely "R" in violence, almost "R" in language and other matters of impudence and/or hate and in murder and/or suicide, but is PG or G in everything else.

    The dark ingenuity of the writers is chilling. It is staggering what devilry the human mind can churn up. Giving intellectual birth to such monstrous ways to kill is odious. How many times and ways must we be told by extremely knowledgeable experts that this stuff plants ideas?

    But as a bit of harsh "reality", as the tag line alludes the story exposes the best accomplice to murder ever found ... us.

    FBI Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) is in charge of cyber crime investigations in Portland, Oregon. She enters her first battle with the most sophisticated and intricate Internet crime ever discovered.

    The story opens with a man setting up to torture a cat to death. But that is not enough to give him his fix of evil. He broadcasts the cat's dying and death online. The perpetrator staples some glue paper such as fly paper to the floor of his basement then places a bowl of milk at one end of the glue paper. Then the creep releases a cat from the opposite end of the glue paper. It would not be likely that the cat would approach the bowl except across the glue paper. Of course, the cat becomes immobile on the glue paper. Over the course of a few days the cat finally dies while the cyber world watches. Millions of viewers. All visiting

    Editor's Note: I suspect that all of our readers are quite capable of grasping this but there is no glue paper made that an adult cat such as the one in this film could not rip to shreds. The cat may have had to fight with getting the shreds of glue paper off if it but the cat most certainly would not be held immobile by it. And two staples holding it to the floor, expecting four tiny staple tines into flooring wood to be stronger than a cat's pull, expecting the paper itself to withstand tugs against the staples? Gimme a break. The writers missed the mark on this one.

    Another victim, a human man is bound and hung from scaffolding in the perpetrator's basement. The webpage title, "Killwithme" is gouged into the man's chest. This, too, is broadcast over cyber space. The bleeding is light and is not that spectacular but visitors are told that with each visit more blood anti-coagulant, probably sodium heparin, is pumped into the man's body. The more the visitors the more anti-coagulant is pumped into his body the more he bleeds. After millions of hits the man bleeds to death.

    Another victim is fitted with concrete galoshes. Now, with his feet anchored the perpetrator turns on some heat lamps and broadcasts this on the web informing everyone that with each visit the heat is turned up. After several million hits the man burns to death.

    So, who is the real murderer? Is it the perpetrator? Or is it each of the visitors to the website? Well!? The perpetrator did not do the actual killing, he just set it up for others to "pull the trigger." Indeed, it is the visitors who knowingly increased the drug flow, turned up the heat and so on. Every one of them is an accomplice to murder! Every one of them had a piece of the murder. The story made it appear that the visitors felt it doesn't matter that their visits were killing the subjects. They wanted to see! What an exposé this film is of what Hollywood seems think is the typical character of gore website visitors! Hollywood may actually be right in this case. The mentality of some the email we have received supports such an imprression.

    A number of other web crimes are mentioned. One of which was child stalking as fellow agent Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks) lures a 52 year old man who thinks Dowd is a babysitter.

    This film is not a source of quality entertainment. Though one of the best written stories with the smoothest continuity and the most seamless weave of subplots I have ever seen, Untraceable is ugly. It is downright black with ugliness.

    Lane appears to be an aging actress trying to perpetuate her presence in the big screen world. The film felt as though the character she portrayed supported her more than she supported the character. Support cast member, Billy Burke who played Portland Police Detective Eric Box seemed to give more thespian energy and focus than Lane. Marsh's daughter, Annie (Perla Haney-Jardine) even seemed less aware of the camera's presence than Lane. From My Dog Skip to Under the Tuscan Sun to Jumper, Lane has had an illustrious career but seems to be getting tired. But that is just my opinion and has nothing to do with the scoring earned by Untraceable.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
    "... intensely gruesome and deeply graphic" just about says it all. Little more could be said to describe the violence content of Untraceable but I'll try. Assault with tazer to abduct, repeatedly. Torture of the unimaginable kind. Seared body. Body dissolving in sulfuric acid. Gore. Human remains. Gunfire killing with seeing the bullets do their damage on a human body. Words just don't do the job. Such evil is portrayed that it is likely someone will be influenced by it. [Prov. 3:31, Prov. 16:29] Such violence and portrayal of vengeance entices. [Prov. 3:31-32] And the cunning and genius of evasion of the bad guy seems to lead the viewer into thinking he'll never get caught ... or maybe should he get caught? God knew what He was saying in Eccl. 8:11: that such behavior sets in men's minds schemes to do wrong when the bad guy "gets away with it" for so long.

    Please look to the listing in the Findings/Scoring section before deciding whether to subject yourself to such "entertainment."

    Impudence/Hate (I) - 55 out of 100
    Eighteen uses of the three/four letter words, including the most foul of the foul words twice, is just about the only content that caused the loss of about half of the 100 starting points in Impudence/Hate. But that is 18 too many according to God's Word.

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 88 out of 100
    If it were not for the woman in a shower, a "gay" and child porn innuendo and a couple other issues of sexually oriented content, this film would have earned a score of 100 out of 100 in Sexual Immorality.

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 88 out of 100
    The only notations of Alcohol/Drug use was one instance of drinking and one of forced drug injection. If these portrayals had been left out the film would have earned a Drugs/Alcohol investigation area score of 100 out of 100.

    Offense to God (O) - 73 out of 100
    The lust for viewing of killing and death and four uses of God's name in vain, once with the four letter expletive drained about 25% of the starting 100 points in this investigation area.

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 55 out of 100
    Horrendous murders by slow torture of at least three people plus multiple views of an extremely graphic suicide by gunfire evaporated nearly half of the starting 100 points in Murder/Suicide.

    A note about the suicide. It could not have been more realistic if it were an actual suicide. It is not something to be viewed by the impressionable. If so, it will plant thoughts. Unclean thoughts which may be indelible ... and enticing to the deeply troubled.


    If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Prov. 3:31 Envy thou not the oppressor [man of violence, extortionist, etc.], and choose none of his ways.
  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good. [As a bad influence does not have to be real to influence badly, a "violent man" does not have to be real to influence violently. It took years for the America professional health agencies to finally understand what God was telling them. See Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children Congressional Public Health Summit for more information. See also 1 Cor. 15:33 below.]
  • Prov. 3:31-32 Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, for the LORD detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence. [These verses speak to having violent desires and thoughts as well as violent behaviors. So, don't let the violence seen conjure violence in your heart nor let your heart be drawn into the "He got what he deserved" trap.]
  • Eccl. 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Untraceable (2008) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - SCORE out of 100
  • set up to torture a cat to death (starvation)
  • cyber crime throughout
  • father drawing son into cyber crime
  • traffic wreck scene
  • horror image, repeatedly
  • assault with tazer to abduct, repeatedly
  • bondage, repeatedly
  • human torture by slow injection, graphic, many angle views, repeatedly
  • gory murder victim's bloody body
  • human torture by slow burn, graphic, many angle views, repeatedly
  • accusation of child abandonment due to urgency of job
  • stalking a child
  • seared body
  • human torture by slow acid build-up - whole body, graphic, many angle views, repeatedly
  • suicide victim
  • human remains gore, repeatedly
  • firearms to control and firearm threats
  • assault to abduct
  • abduction sequence
  • human torture by slowly lowering onto a rotating soil tiller, many angle views, repeatedly
  • fighting for firearm
  • action violence
  • gunfire killing, graphic
  • attempted murder by electric tiller

    Impudence/Hate (I) - SCORE out of 100
  • media rudeness
  • 12 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • two uses of the most foul of the foul words

    Sexual Immorality (S) - SCORE out of 100
  • woman in shower behind steamed glass door
  • "gay" innuendo
  • child porn innuendo
  • woman in shower w/ man in her motel room
  • man and woman in bed after night together in a motel room, clothed

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - SCORE out of 100
  • forced drugging by injection, the more a website is visited the more the drug injected
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O) - SCORE out of 100
  • three uses of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive and once with it
  • lust for viewing killing and death, repeatedly

    Murder/Suicide (M) - SCORE out of 100
  • murder by forced drugging
  • murder by slow burn
  • murder by battery acid
  • repeated views of an intensely graphic gunfire suicide

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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