90s Flashback: The Net (1995)

Directed by Irvin Winkler, written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, and starring Sandra Bullock and Jeremy Northam, The Net is a film that is only dated by the technology displayed. The overall plot of the film has aged tremendously and it’s, dare I say it, a good movie. 

For those unfamiliar with the 1995 film, Sandra Bullock plays a computer programmer named Angela Bennett. Angela receives a floppy disk (!) that she shouldn’t have, but she doesn’t find out she’s in actual danger until she ignores a bunch of red flags from a new vacation flame, Jack Devlin, played by Jeremy Northam. Devlin works as a contracted killer for Jeff Gregg, played by Gerald Berns, who owns a software company that makes the security software system, Gatekeeper, which is used by every big government organization and then some. Bennett quickly discovers that the Gatekeeper software has a “backdoor”, meaning Jeff Gregg’s company has complete access to every single file on every single computer that his software is downloaded on. Upon realizing this, Angela Bennett discovers that the powers that be have changed all of her information, from her name to her social security number. They have, on paper, changed her entire identity and added outstanding warrants for her arrest, in order to prevent her from leaking the truth. 

I mean it when I say that this film was good. I’m not being sarcastic. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had never seen the film before and decided to watch it since it continuously came up on my Netflix recommended list. I had no real idea what the film was about. I was honestly expecting a film more along the lines of Hackers, in terms of style, content, and dialogue. But, I’m very happy that that isn’t what I got. 

Sandra Bullock does a wonderful job as Angela Bennett and Jeremy Northam plays Jack Devlin as a vile villain. He’s one that you just love to watch meet his demise. 

Now, I had a thought while watching The Net that I’ve been thinking about for the last day or so: could this film be considered a precursor to The Matrix? I mean, think about it: they are both computer technology based and both about the main character’s perception of reality and how easily that can all change. Angela Bennett’s whole life is jumbled because somebody changed some numbers on a computer. She continuously points out how everybody needs to be more careful because our whole lives are online, even then in 1995. The wrong person gets ahold of that information and what they do with it could be detrimental. The Net just feels like it would be a good double feature pairing with The Matrix is all I’m saying. 

Anyways, I hate that this is a film that I now want to add to my collection. You can currently catch the movie on Netflix, and if you have an hour and fifty-four minutes to spare, I think you should check it out. I don’t think any of you will be disappointed. 

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