Saturday, 2 May 2009

Movie Review - The Net

The Net is a technological thriller starring Sandra Bullock, who plays Angela Bennett, a systems trouble-shooter with a particular interest in viruses. She is a typical nerd, sleeping little, living on take away food, having no boyfriend and practically no social life in the real world, preferring instead to spend all her time on the computer, logged into chat rooms, and the like. She receives a message from a friend / colleague (friendly colleague?) about something big that’s about to happen, but no details – he wants to meet her in person. Reluctantly she agrees to meet him only slightly before she has a flight to catch the following day, but , determined to go on holiday for the first time in ages, she decides to go even though her friend doesn’t show up.

We soon find Bullock on the beach, where her nerdling traits (on the beach… with her laptop…)are spotted by Jack Devlin (Jeremy Northam [Emma, Enigma, Gosford Park]). After various events which I won’t elaborate on here, she finds that her real identity had been stolen and that she herself is now wanted by police in several states. What’s more, she realises that far more is at stake than she could possibly have imagined… and somehow, she’s caught up right in the middle of it.

The cinematography is effective throughout the film, and Bullock puts in one of her better serious performances here (though I still think quirky comedy is still more her style). Her character is given a decent workout with the events in the film and Bullock is well up to the job. The hacking scenes are, surprisingly, relatively believable (certainly more so than those in Antitrust or Swordfish! – but then how could they not be?!?!?). The script is, on the whole, fairly tightly plotted and the way someone’s life can be completely ruined simply through tampering with computer records is portrayed with quite frightening realism. (If it were not for the film’s major fault that I’ll mention a bit later, I would definitely say that this film was a far more effective cautionary tale about the dangers of over-reliance on technology than any of the Matrix or Terminator films.) The ancillary actors and actresses (including Dennis Miller [Murder at 1600, Joe Dirt] are fine, nothing special but nothing wrong with their performances either. Northam as the baddie is suitably creepy, but his character is too inconsistent to be believable.

In fact, the scenes where he lets Angela get away are what ruin the whole film. His character is ruthlessly efficient, yet is guilty of child-like carelessness at times and gives up very quickly (for no satisfactory reason) on occasions. The trouble is, these inconsistencies prevent the viewer (except perhaps the very na├»ve or trusting!) from being able to suspend their belief in what’s happening in the film. This is a shame as it turns what is otherwise a surprisingly effective techno-thriller into an entertaining, but ultimately somewhat disappointing film. Recommended only really to fans of Bullock and / or very undemanding entertainment. It just scrapes a “Recommended” rating from me since I do like our Sandra and it was actually a lot better than I thought it was going to be.

Other Information

Directed by: Irwin Winkler [The Shipping News, De-Lovely, Enough, Rocky I – V]
Writing credits: John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris [Catwoman, Terminator 3, The Others]
MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence, some sexuality and brief strong language.
Runtime: 114 min
Year of release: 1995

Related Links

Sandra Bullock also starred in:

Murder By Numbers (awful cop drama)
Miss Congeniality (good, amusing satirical comedy)
Two Weeks’ Notice (excellent – well I thought so, it seems to have received very mixed views!)

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