The Net & The Net 2.0
The Net (February 10/06)
Eleven years after its theatrical release, The Net has aged just as poorly as one might've expected; a surplus of dated references to floppy discs and dial-up modems cements the film's status as a mid-90's relic. The silly, by-the-numbers screenplay certainly doesn't help matters, and there's just no shaking the feeling that scripters John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris were consulting some kind of Thrillers for Dummies guidebook every step of the way. Sandra Bullock plays Angela Bennett, an ace programmer who finds herself embroiled in a far-reaching conspiracy after stumbling upon a program that allows the user to hack into virtually any system (no matter how secure). While The Net does contain a few prescient elements - including a sequence in which Angela orders a pizza online - the film is, on the whole, an overblown and thoroughly predictable affair. Bullock delivers an expectedly personable performance, though she's never entirely convincing as a mousy computer whiz (and for a hacker, her character is a remarkably slow typer). But the ridiculously overlong running time - coupled with a second half that seems to consist solely of Bullock running from one place to another - ultimately transforms The Net into a surprisingly tedious experience that is unlikely to pass muster with even the most indiscriminate viewer.
The Net 2.0
A sequel in name only, The Net 2.0 makes one appreciate the complexity and subtle nuance of its predecessor. The film is essentially a complete disaster on all fronts, with the lackluster plot, subpar performances, and overambitious direction the tip of the iceberg in terms of problematic elements. This time around, a computer whiz named Hope Cassidy (Nikki Deloach) finds herself at the center of a massive conspiracy after accepting a programming job in Istanbul. Screenwriter Rob Cowan employs a flashback-laden structure that's unnecessarily convoluted and muddled, yet for all its supposed complexity, there's virtually nothing going on here of any interest. The garden-variety storyline is exacerbated by a complete lack of compelling characters, something that's particularly true of Deloach's Hope. We're never given a single reason to care about her or her plight, and try as she might, Deloach simply does not have the talent to carry an entire film on her shoulders (Bullock's performance the first Net comes off as Oscar-worthy by comparison). The inclusion of plot threads similar to those in the original certainly doesn't help matters, nor does Cowan's reliance on stilted, thoroughly banal dialogue. The Net 2.0 smacks of a cash-grab that's been needlessly rushed into the marketplace, and it seems highly unlikely that even fans of its predecessor will find anything here worth embracing.