Starring Sandra Bullock, Jeremy Northram, Dennis Miller
"The Net"

Opened: July 28, 1995 | Rated: PG-13

If you forget the fact that computer-literacy is a prerequisite, "The Net" is at it's heart a traditional suspense thriller.

It's no Hitchcock, and there are a few stock scenes that have been done a dozen times before (the chase at the carnival, the chase through a parade), but "The Net" has a consistent tension level and a strong pace. You're not on the edge of your seat, but you're also never bored.

Sandra Bullock stars as Angela Bennett, a lonely Los Angeles hacker who kills computer viruses for a living.

While debugging a program sent to her by a friend in San Francisco who is subsequently killed, she stumbles across a hidden part of the program that allows access to just about any computer, anywhere. Whoever controls this program could access the Pentagon like it was a public park.

Not realizing quite what she's found, Angela heads for Mexico on vacation finds herself being hunted by the creators of this program, who have hacked their way into the DMV, Social Security and other computers and essentially erased her from existence.

She ends up on the run and eventually in San Francisco (familiar landmarks and cameos by the KTVU news anchors abound), where she heads for the company her friend worked for hoping to find a way to expose the program for what it is -- a plot by a software manufacturer to control the market (no, it's not Bill Gates).

Computers play an integral part in the story and the action in "The Net." This isn't just a Hollywood gimmick to cash in on the popularity of the Internet.

The camera work and editing are carefully orchestrated to make keyboard and computer screen close-ups interesting and fairly easy to follow, but the film-makers clearly knew who their audience would be. If your VCR is too much technology for you, "The Net" will be hard to follow.

If there is a single problem with "The Net," it would be a lack of depth. It's not the kind of movie you talk about on the way home, but it is a refreshing change from the thrillers of late. It's exciting without blood and guts and without cats jumping out of cabinets just to get a scream.

This review appeared in the Daily Republic, Fairfield, CA.

©1995 All Rights Reserved.

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