Starring: Sandra Bullock, Jeremy Northram, Dennis Miller
Director: Irwin Winkler
Running Time: 115 mins
The Net is an American film about a computer analyst who discovers a major conspiracy unfolding on the net, putting her life and those around her in grave danger.
Without a doubt one of the most dated films of the 1990s, The Net is an often hilarious look back to the hi-tech world of the internet before the turn of the century. Couple that with an equally preposterous story and generally underwhelming characters, and you have a film that’s far from exceptional, although surprisingly enjoyable at moments.
The big difference between watching The Net now and back in the mid-90s is the completely different perspectives on the digital world. Nowadays, we’re surrounded by the internet and live our lives online every day.
That means that the ways in which this film tries to play on insecurities about the web really don’t work. At the time, when not everybody was online every day, the idea that the internet could be used for a major conspiracy and ruin somebody’s life seemed entirely plausible and very scary.
Now, though, it’s both preposterous and not that terrifying an idea. The sense of paranoia in this film is undermined by the fact that far worse things can be done using the internet, and equally the fact that the ways in which the cybercriminals choose to act in this story is utterly ridiculous.
The villains are overly obsessed with Sandra Bullock’s character, and will do anything to silence her – except for the obvious. So when they have the opportunity to strike her off, they don’t bother, and instead try to use convoluted digital trickery to make her life hell.
In short, the story really doesn’t go together very well, and the motivations of the villains, as well as some of the people on Sandra Bullock’s side, are uninteresting and poorly fleshed-out.
Bullock’s performance is fine, with a good bit of charisma that saves the film from being a total disaster. She’s not quite as energetic as in Speed, but she’s definitely the shining light in this film.
All in all, the real charm of The Net nowadays is in sitting back and enjoying a preposterous look to the future, as the film plays on paranoias of the era that haven’t really come to fruition, or are entirely run-of-the-mill in the modern day.
The Net is by no means the sleek, hi-tech thriller that it wants to be, and it’s far from a masterpiece of storytelling, but it does at least have a fun factor to it that proves surprisingly enjoyable anyway. And that’s why I’m giving it a 6.6 overall.