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The Net

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Net

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Dennis Miller
Director: Irwin Winkler
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 114 Minutes
Release Date: July 1995
Genres: Mystery, Suspense

*Also starring: Jeremy Northam, Diane Baker, Wendy Gazelle, Ken Howard, Ray McKinnon

Review by Andrew Hicks
2½ stars out of 4

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

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