Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Movie Review: "The Net" (1995)

In a case of completely misremembering an earlier movie experience, I watched "The Net" this afternoon.
When this film came out in 1995, there is a 75 percent chance that I saw it in theaters. It was about the same time I had first experienced the internet for real for the first time. It was around this time that I opened my first Hotmail e-mail account. I was enthralled by the prospect, and by virtue of posting this online right now, I obviously still am.

In Japan, "The Net" was known as "The Internet" (which I feel is a more literal, matter-of-fact translation of the title.) Also, did you know that there was a 22-episode run of a TV version of "The Net" in 1998? Or what about the fact that there was 2006 direct-to-video release of "The Net 2.0", a sequel? Would it surprise you that Bullock made it back for neither of these?
Either way, the original isn't a bad movie, I just can't work up the energy to care whether Sandra Bullock makes it out of the clutches of "The Net" or not. And several of the gimmicks in the movie such as ordering pizza online, reserving airline tickets and instant messaging are beyond commonplace now.
I think the most boorish thing about "The Net" is the character of "Jack Devlin", played by Jeremy Northam. A real Snidely Whiplash-type, we are the opposite of shocked when he, gasp, is suddenly revealed to be a hired hitman wooing vulnerable software engineer Angela Bennett (Bullock). And all she wanted was a vacation in Cozumel! (Her first in six years, she said!)
Say, that reminds me, Dennis Miller is the bearded friend Dr. Alan Champion. So that's something to look forward to. You can also look forward to the heavy-handed concept that Sandra Bullock (who loses her identity) has a mother who has--wait for it, wait for it--Alzheimer's.
In some ways I think everyone should see this movie at some point in the future. I'm more likely to drop this in a time capsule than recommend this to somebody in 2011. People in 2035 need to know what passed for a techno-thriller in the mid-90's. The central conceit of "The Net" is that we're supposed to be freaked out by how easily someone's life could be erased or altered when it's computerized.
Facebook has basically accomplished the same goal as the bad guys in "The Net", Cathedral. Facebook extracted the same information. People volunteered what they would otherwise safeguard.
They didn't even have to raise their voice or ask twice.

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