The Net (SE)
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Internet fiend Angela (Bullock) doesn’t leave her house and every aspect of her life is experienced through her CPU. When she accidentally comes across some buried “controversial” info via a videogame that she was trying to de-bug (that’s her job), big trouble finds her and hits hard. Before you can say “should’ve stuck to surfing porn”, a shady group of hackers change her identity, relentlessly chase her around town and kill her few acquaintances. Surf this highway?
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I think The Net is even more relevant today than it was during its initial theatrical release in 1995. The Internet has bitten in such a large chunk of our everyday lives and the film takes the proper time to comment on the many dangers which the web can spring upon us. Themes such as the social detachment that some may experience when spending too much time in front of their computers or the fact that our every move is being recorded are both addressed here. The film also asks the scariest question that can be posed to any net freak: “what if somebody used all your recorded data and toyed with it?” Brrr…Now I never thought I’d say this but let's give it up for Sandra Bullock who carries the movie like a seasoned pro! I can’t say that I’ve ever been a big fan and I don’t think she ever lived up to her hype as the second coming of Julia Roberts (neither did Roberts, for that matter) but she charmed the pants out of me here and sold the character and in turn, the movie to me.
The film’s first hour is definitely the strongest with the set up, the characters and the conspiracy angle being well drawn out and engaging. The chase sequences are also enthralling, the main villain, played brilliantly by Northam, is one charismatic bastard (think an evil James Bond), the Mexico locations are gorgeous and the tension is high. I felt edgy on many occasions and I must give props to the director for making "typing on a keyboard" look so exciting. In lesser hands, that particular aspect could’ve easily killed the film. Unfortunately, the movie does lose its footing during its last block by over-simplifying the solutions to Angela’s massive problems, leaning a bit too much towards the usual thriller conventions and wrapping everything up in a way too neat fashion that I had a hard time digesting. But overall, THE NET is tightly directed, mostly well-written, with an endearing lead, a solid score, a fly-by-your-pants pace and a narrative most of us can connect to. And you know what else? It’s a hoot to watch. Now surf to: www.what happened to Bullock’s once promising career.com
Director’s and Producer’s Commentary: This feature length commentary wasn’t all that. Both Irwin Winkler and producer Rob Cowan seem more interested in describing the action on-screen than giving us any behind-the-scenes tidbits. They do praise Bullock continually and do comment on the characters but "dead time" is very prominent and overall, this commentary made for a boring listen.
Writer’s Commentary: The commentary with screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris is a tad more interesting. Although this track also has its fair share of "dead time", the boys do give some info on the script’s journey and the many changes that had to be done along the way. Their sense of humor also made sure that this commentary was somewhat entertaining. So-so.
The Net: From Script to Screen: This 19-minute capsule is a mix of comments by the writers and the director and clips from the film. We get some insight into the birth of the script, how the Sandra Bullock casting came to be and of course, all kinds of Bullock praising. It’s a decent time, if not a bit redundant.
HBO: Making Of: Inside The Net: This 20-minute capsule is basically a promotional tool that was used at the time of the film’s release. We get snippets from the flick, on-set footage, brief "bla-bla" from the cast and crew and some computer genius giving us his two cents. Harmless but far from substantial.
We also get some trailers (The Net, 13th Floor and 28 Days) a slick CPU-like Animated Menu and the requisite Cast and Crew Filmographies .
It’s a shame that the DVD isn’t up to par with the movie itself. Yes, the EXTRAS are plenty but I would compare them to wind being blown in one's ear. If you love the picture, I recommend that you purchase the first THE NET edition that came out a while back: it's bare bones but at least the image is way better than the one this “Special Edition” showcases. As a movie, THE NET is an entertaining, if not flawed, little thriller that managed to fill the void of my Tuesday night adequately. I have a feeling that I’ll re-visit this one once every blue moon. There’s just something appealing about it. Maybe it’s the promise of Bullock’s blossoming career that never quite reached its full potential. She could’ve been a contender, instead of a MURDER BY NUMBERS sub-par actress…