Riddled with more coincidences and implausibilities than Hitchcock permitted himself in his entire career, The Net still gets by as a reasonably suspenseful, very au courant thriller. Irwin Winkler’s first directorial outing without Robert De Niro at the top of the cast trades effectively on time-tested female-in-jeopardy gambits.
Sandra Bullock plays Angela Bennett, a cuddly computer nerd who freelances out of her Venice, Calif., home. On the eve of her first vacation in six years, a colleague sends her a new program through which she is strangely able to access some highly restricted government files.
Angela heads off to Mexico, where she meets a smooth-talking British hacker, Jack Devlin (Jeremy Northam). But it soon develops that he’s more interested in her unique diskette than in her mind or body. Even if she manages to save her life, Angela still loses her identity. Robbed of all ID, she’s issued a return visa to the US under a different name and arrives home to discover that not only has her house been put up for sale, but she’s wanted by the police.
Situation follows the Hitchcockian formula of placing an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances, and Angela is, to her detriment, the Woman Who Knew Too Much. The thriller locales are typical and reminiscent of any number of old pics but the suspense is neatly achieved.
Bullock again provides highly accessible, viewer-friendly entry to a story. Her co-star, more than any single actor, is the very active computer graphics, deftly done and pretty easy to follow even for the computer illiterate.