Television, Movie and Play Reviews

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

THE NET, starring Sandra Bullock, Dennis Miller (and others). In a word? Disappointing.

This movie had potential but fell flat, quickly.

The premise is that a computer nerd/hacker type stumbles onto a conspiracy to create chaos in the United States, and possibly the world, at a later date. The computer nerd is Bullock's character. A likable enough character at the outset, but one that quickly becomes tiring. Even the non-computer literate members of the audience are several steps ahead of our supposedly "clever girl" throughout most of the movie.

The bad guys discover that she knows about them so they set her up. They try to kill her, and when that is unsuccessful, spend a lot of time trying to catch her, find out what she knows, when she knew it, who she told it to, and then kill her.

What's a victim to do? The Bullock character doesn't seem to have a clue. She makes dumb mistake after dumb mistake and only rarely thinks to do what she's good at, which is use a computer.

With a little judicious editing, this movie could have been not only suspenseful, but enjoyable as well. One thing that would have helped is to have given the audience (and Bullock's character) a sense of urgency by using a time line, or similar technique. The chronology of the chase is muddled. (And the geographical locations are a mess, if you actually know your way around Southern California and San Francisco!) How long is this taking? How is she going to get where she needs to go? Is time running out?

And for that matter, what does she need to do to save herself?

It was obvious from the film that the director wanted this to not become a woman-in-jeopardy-gets-saved-by-the-handsome-hunk movie. Unfortunately, the director didn't allow the Bullock character much leeway in using her skills to save herself. She knows how to use a computer better than everyone else, or almost everyone else. We are told that right up front. Then why doesn't she use the computer to take the offensive? Why doesn't she? I have no idea. Did the writers not know what they were writing about? Did the director think the audience wouldn't be able to follow along?

In my opinion, there are at least 20 times when the movie could have taken on an exciting, dangerous feel but it went "splttt" instead. The computer stuff isn't done well enough for either novice or pro to appreciate. The computer stuff in the movie Under Siege 2 (the action-adventure film with Steven Seagal) is more interesting than that offered in The Net. And to make matters even worse, this very idea of a far-reaching conspiracy involving computers was done on an episode of Riptide (a television series produced by Stephen J. Cannell a few years back) and was done so well, that audience members were talking about it after seeing The Net.

I've seen the movie twice. I like Sandra Bullock. However, this movie is not very well done. It certainly can't withstand close scrutiny. I'd suggest a bargain matinee, just in case you're as disappointed in the movie as the audiences I saw it with.

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