The Net (1995)

The Net
Director: Irwin Winkler
Writer: John Brancato, Michael Ferris
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jeremy Northam, Dennis Miller, Diane Baker, Wendy Gazelle, Ken Howard, Ray McKinnon
Seen on: 25.1.2023

Angela (Sandra Bullock) is a computer security expert and programmer. She works from home and rarely goes out. But she is finally ready for a holiday. Just before she leaves, she is sent a new program that seems to lead to confidential material, but even though it is interesting, she doesn’t change her plans. Her holidays start well, with a flirt with the handsome Jack (Jeremy Northam). Things don’t stay good though, and Jack turns out to be more than he seems. When Angela makes her way home despite everything, she finds that somebody else has completely taken over her life. Angela is desperate, and she is being hunted, of that she is sure.

The Net is a so-so thriller with a bit of computer nostalgic charm and a great Sandra Bullock. Also, Jeremy Northam is cast (at least partly) as a femme fatale – that works for me, albeit probably more so than the film overall.

The film poster showing a close-up of Angela (Sandra Bullock), a few PCs and a shadowy figure in a doorway.

Watching this film almost 30 years after it was made was pretty interesting from a techno-historic perspective. The technology the film works with seems so much older than 30 years, the websites and programs Angela works with are almost comical from today’s perspective. But the film is less interested in the software than in the possible ramifications of digitization and seems to be tailored to explore the problems with cloud-based data-storage and the Internet of Things in an almost prescient manner. Nevertheless, the film doesn’t feel up-to-date anymore, quite to the contrary.

The plot is also only moderately coherent. Especially Jack as a character is a little all over the place, and the decisions he makes are more for the convenience of the script writers than for any reason that could be explained in character. Since he is played by Northam, one almost forgives him for that, though.

Angela (Sandra Bullock) in front of her workstation.

But the film is centered on Bullock and, as usual, she is fantastic, making Angela utterly believable, even when we should probably just shake our heads at her characterization. It is thanks to her that the film still works as much as it does.

Not that that is overly much, I have to admit, and it’s not just the dusty tech shown in it that dates it. It’s mostly the grand conspiracy that is both too much and not logical enough to make it possible to suspend our disbelief, at least for the most part. At least, every once in a while the film finds a moment and works it, but it is not enough to really speak of it as a good film.

Angela (Sandra Bullock) meets jack (Jeremy Northam) on the beach.

Summarizing: okay.

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