The Net (1995)   2/52/52/52/52/5


Sandra Bullock as Angela Bennett in The Net (1995)

Cyber Crimes is a Load of Bullocks

Before the internet had taken over our lives it seemed fair game for the movie industry to manipulate our fears and ignorance over technology especially computers and hacking. Unfortunately when it comes to 1995's "The Net" starring Sandra Bullock and Jeremy Northam the manipulation went a touch too far as "The Net" is nothing more than an attempt to capitalize on people's fears over the internet, access to personal details and hacking turning them into a thriller. But in doing so "The Net" comes across as far fetched twaddle which takes so many liberties with facts that it ends up laughable.

When expert software engineer Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock - While You Were Sleeping) is sent a disc for "Mozart's Ghost" containing a software glitch for her to investigate, she doesn't think much more of it and heads off on her first holiday in several years. But her holiday is ruined when the disc causes her to become involved in a case of computer espionage where her life is not only physically in danger but her identity is hacked giving her a new less than savoury identity. With no one to help she must find out why the disc is so important, how they are hacking her identity and save herself from those who are after her.

Jeremy Northam as Jack Devlin in The Net (1995)

The trouble is with "The Net" is behind all the techie mumbo jumbo, and it is mumbo jumbo, it is fundamentally a run of the mill thriller with nothing really special to make it stand out or be memorably thrilling. The basis is that we have an innocent person having to run for their life with the bad guys in hot pursuit whilst attempting to work out why they are being chased. It is certainly not new and there are many movies which manage to make the basic premise far more exciting than "The Net" achieves. It also doesn't help matters that the storyline is also full of contrivances, twists which are predictable and gaping holes which leave you having to take a hell of a lot for granted. It certainly feels like "The Net" was a case of throw all these predictable scenarios in to the proverbial pot and then try and blend them into the storyline, except the result is a curdled mess.

Talking of doesn't work I have to say the ending, which whilst completely predictable in its outcome feels like a rush job. For 95% of the movie you have Angela basically on the run trying to discover why she is being targeted and then miraculously in the space of 10 minutes she manages to miraculously solve it all. It is a seriously laughable and rushed end to a movie which if the storyline hadn't already been bad would have made it disappointing.

But "The Net" is really a movie about capitalizing on the audience's naivety when it comes to computers and the internet, remembering that when this was released back in 1995 the internet was certainly not part of the day to day life as it is now. The trouble is that the technology side of the movie is nonsense and very laughable, not just in the fact that with the use of those old 3.5 inch discs and chunky graphics it is seriously dated. No it is laughable because it is far fetched; the ability to do half the stuff shown in "The Net" was not possible back in 1995, hacking systems was certainly not as easy as pressing the Escape key and the techie dialogue will certainly make you laugh. It's certainly a case of well the public doesn't know about this stuff so we can make it up, except it was too far fetched to really work.

As for the performances well Sandra Bullock, who has shown in her other movies can handle drama, does her level best with the role of computer expert Angela Bennett but because the dialogue is laughable and the drama is often over exaggerated Bullock really struggles to make the character work. An attempt to make the character more than 2 dimensional with the introduction of her mother who is suffering with dementia never feels anything more than padding. But the real issue is that the character of Angela Bennett is too mixed up and unreal. One moment we have this computer geek who hides away in her home, talking in chatrooms, ordering pizza on line and doesn't know her neighbours, then the next we have this sexy bikini clad woman on a beach who is a little flirtatious and has sex with a man she just met. It's just not realistic and is too much of a split personality to be believable.

As for the rest of the cast, well Jeremy Northam is adequate as Jack Devlin a criminal hit man/computer expert, a weird mix I know. But there is always something not right about the character which again makes it not that believable. The same can be said for Dennis Miller who plays Dr. Alan Champion a character which feels like it's been included to try and provide some humour, which is seriously out of place and you guessed it, fails to work. In the end the most convincing performance comes from Diane Baker as Angela's mother.

What this all boils down to is that "The Net" is a seriously disappointing movie which although is not a bad idea just fails to work. It is a case of being laughable because it is so far fetched and with so many inconsistencies with the plot, characters as well as the ability of technology back in 1995 it just fails to really deliver the tension you would expect. It's definitely not one of Sandra Bullock's better movies but she does her best with a very poorly developed character and at least makes it watch able.


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