Thursday, 1 April 2010
In 1995 I thought the internet was a fishermen’s conference and hotmail was some kind of letter bomb, so it’s hard to be harsh on ‘The Net’ which has dated badly but must have seemed a cautionary tale when released.
Sandra Bullock plays an unlikely stay at home computer programmer. She orders pizzas off the net and talks to anonymous web friends rather than go out on dates. She shares viruses with her chums but her life falls apart when she gets sent one that enables the user to control any system on the internet.
Her net pal agrees to fly down to see her, but when his navigation system gets hacked he gets fried. Sandra meanwhile, thinking she’s been stood up, heads off on a trip to Mexico where she meets Jeremy Northam who seems like a tit from the off. Sandra is however impressed by his hard drive and soon they’re bumping uglies. But wait! We’ve seen him root through her bag for her copy of the ‘Mozart’s Ghost’ programme which may well take over the world.
After finding out about the nefarious schemes of her lover Sandra escapes only to crash the getaway dingy knocking herself unconscious. As you’d expect she wakes up in a convent full of nuns who don't even bother to question her over the computer discs and her captor’s fat wallet that she's clinging on to. Sandra knows things are awry however when she learns form the US embassy that her name has been changed on her drivers’ licence. Things get worse back home when she learns that her identity has been erased and she’s been granted a new skanky one complete with prostitution convictions.
Using the only friend she can trust (and discard) Sandra, sorry Ruth..er Angela? Starts to fight back using the only weapon she knows - yes computers. That’s right they can be used for good as well as evil. Got that, it’s a lesson in not trusting technology but for utilising it for your own means. A bit like the bad guy did, only nicer.
I never saw this film on release but having now done so I’m sure I’d still have found it a bit far fetched. As in all compuer films any problem can be solved in a couple of key strokes whereas in real life the bad guy would close in and you’d realise that everything you’ve written is in CAPS LOCK.
The film opens with a few clumsy pointers that we are getting too reliant on computers. Sandra has a lonely life watching her screens with her food downloaded and even the FedEx man wielding his scanner like a light sabre. It doesn’t take long for things to be torn down and it’s pretty clear where Sandra’s character arc is going to take her.
I wasn’t totally convinced by her programming talk and she types even more slowly than me! She does however look good in a bikini so I’m glad she got the role over some fat real life computer nerd. Jeremy Northam, who later starts in his own cyber thriller ‘Cypher’ is a pretty weak bad guy and has no real menace. His angry rages come across as hissy fits and he is at least Sandra’s equal when it comes to computer skills.
The paranoia element of the big brother system controlling our lives was better realised in films like ‘Enemy of the State’ and even ‘Die hard 4.0’ but you have to remember that this was made when an Atari 2600 was seen as space age technology.
The web-fu on show was OK and probably science fiction at the time. Some elements like the hackers FedExing each other floppy discs certainly date the film but as a historical oddity it’s quite good fun although the promised elements of danger and excitement are never really realised.
THE Tag Line : Net Deficit 62%