THE NET is a thriller about a lonely mole, Angela Bennett (Sandra
Bullock). Like a real life mole, Angela lives a dark and solitary life
underground, and spends her time boring through things. Angela is a
software tester who exclusively telecommutes from her home - she has
never been to her office. Is this the future? Her room is dark other
than the glow from her monitors. She hacks her way through programs
looking for viruses and through the Internet looking for ersatz
She stumbles onto a program that has some sort of link to a ring
of cyber-criminals. The program for some reason can bring up secret
information if the right passwords and magic codes are entered. The
criminals are disrupting stock exchanges, airports, and banks. These
are not your friendly hackers either, they kill people Mafia style.
She tangles with them, and they switch her identity to be someone else,
steal everything she has, and generally get her in big trouble with the
The cat and mouse game between her and the bad guys is the heart
of the story. She is pursued by Jack Devlin (Jeremy Northam) who wants
something from her and then wants to exterminate her. She knows no one
since she rarely speaks to anyone. She turns to her therapist and old
boyfriend, Dr. Alan Champion (Dennis Miller) for help, but she believes
that her salvation lies in her own hands.
THE NET is an interesting show with many things going for it.
First and foremost is Sandra Bullock, who was so great in SPEED and
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING, and is so here as well. The casting of her
was perfect. She has that reclusive, withdrawn smile and looks like
someone who spends all of their time having an intimate relationship
with a computer while ignoring, shunning, and being almost afraid of
the outside world. I know people like Angela who are slowly losing all
social graces, spending all of their time on the computer in their
offices or homes, and seem almost taken aback when spoken to as if to
say you can't speak to me.
A mild suspension of disbelief is all that is necessary to follow
the technology in the story. As she hacks through the Internet, runs
through IP addresses, does virus scans, etc., much of it seems kind of
plausible. Don't look too close or you will see the Wizard behind the
curtain. Go with the flow and believe. One of the most inaccurate
parts was actually the most fun. I liked seeing a visual virus so that
the data melts in front of your eyes much like a real virus might
attack human flesh.
If you notice, she has full-sized computers and laptops of all
types in her room, but she uses her Mac for the serious stuff reserving
the PC to order pizza over the Internet. As someone who worked at
Apple on the precursor to the Mac, the Lisa, and someone who stills
uses a Mac at home and at work, this made me smile.
The plot is fun to follow even in its most predictable parts. The
script by John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris creates a highly
interesting story full of technobabble. Where it falls down is in the
depiction of the villain. He is too suave and not sufficiently scary.
Also, Angela is painted into such corners with nowhere to turn, that
the plot frequently has nowhere to go. The director (Irwin Winkler)
should have had Angela show more emotion if they didn't give her more
possible exits or people to turn to. I think having a set of good cops
that she was trying to link up with would have improved the script.
THE NET runs 1:58, but does not feel that long. The pacing by
editor Richard Halsey is good. The movie is rated PG-13 for a little
bit of profanity and non-gory violence. It would be fine for kids over
say 9. I recommend the movie to you as a nice little thriller, and I
award it ** 1/2.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes