With all the hype about the Internet over the past few years, it
was inevitable a series of movies exploiting the phenomenon would be
rushed out before you could say "cybersex." After all, where else in the
world can you download the theme from SHAFT, harrass "Star Trek"
freaks and spend hours on end in the "Lacy Lingerie" chat room? Yes,
I've surfed the Net myself, talking to people with such monikers as
Maxie ("Like the pads?") and Brown Finger ("For heaven's sake,
Brownie, wipe the finger off!"), and been asked countless times if I am
"M or F," to which I always respond, "I'm a sexy MF." It's always good
to keep a little ambiguity in a conversation.
THE NET is pretty much a hybid of SNEAKERS and THE
FUGITIVE, meaning it exploits new technology while keeping the
traditional chase scenes intact. Its star, Sandra Bullock, can indeed
carry a movie with her beauty and charm, not to mention significant
acting skills--not exactly a requirement for movies like THE NET.
That's not to say THE NET isn't severely flawed, but for much of the
movie, the premise and chase scene retreads work. Around the second
half, the small but vital bit of originality runs out and chase cliches
involving carnival carousels and highway shoulders are needlessly
thrown in. Then there's the final chase, which directly copies THE
FUGITIVE's ending--but, of course, having Bullock yell out "I didn't
kill my wife!" wouldn't work, so alternate dialogue was substituted.
Bullock plays a computer hacker who stumbles upon some
secret files one day while visiting the "Ronald Reagan Fantasies" chat
room. Soon everyone she knows is being killed off one by one and the
man she meets on her Mexican vacation pulls a gun on her after sex.
"Okay, fine, we don't _have_ to cuddle," she says to him, but he tries
to shoot her anyway. She survives that trauma, but upon returning
homw, Bullock discovers the evil computer wizards (the same guys
who built a 30-foot statue of Bill Gates) have changed her identity.
Now the government has her fingerprints, social security
number and fictional criminal record under a different name.
Meanwhile, a look-alike has taken her place at work and, since Sandra
has no real friends (besides her Toshiba laptop) and her mother has
Alzheimer's (a disease where... oh, I forget), Bullock can'r verify her
identity. So she sets out on that all-important trek to find an identity,
literally, with the aid of ex-lover and shrink Dennis Miller, who soon
leaves the film to be replaced by Kevin Nealon. No, wait, that's what
happened on "Saturday Night Live."
The message of THE NET is simple--the computer is our
friend, but bad people can make it our enemy, particularly since in this
day and age information about everyone is electronically stored
somewhere. All Big Brother has to do is push a button here, a
keystroke there and BAM! you don't exist. And I'm pushing that
button right now, so be nice to me.
Copyright © 1996 Andrew Hicks