Episode 97: Bargain Bin #13: The Net (1995)

The Bargain Bin gives us a chance to pay a little more attention to those ubiquitous, ‘passive watch’ movies that marinated our formative years, and see whether there’s more to mine from them, or whether they deserved nothing more than their place in the discount section.

“She’s going to use a computer!” We’ve told our mums not to use the phone for the next couple of hours so we can log onto 1995’s technofear thriller The Net.

Reclusive tech worker Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock) is a work-from-home cyber security whizz, whose interactions with the real world rarely stretch beyond conference calls with distant colleagues, anonymous chat room sessions with “CyberBob”, “Iceman” and “Gandalf”, and visits to her hospitalised Alzheimers’ patient mother who doesn’t recognise her. Her solitary existence backfires hugely when a computer virus she is studying turns out to be the secret door to a world of corporate espionage that threatens the highest levels of government. Befriended, bedded and betrayed by one of the baddies, her entire existence is stolen and she finds herself on the run from both the law and the evil corporation under an assumed, criminal, identity with no one to corroborate her crazy tale. It’s a race against time to regain her life and take down the wrongdoers.

An early example of a webphobic film that focusses on the dark possibilities of an entirely online life, hugely successful producer Irwin Winkler stepped behind the camera for only his 3rd feature, and was deft enough to cast an on-the-verge-of-superstardom Sandra Bullock to essay his Hitchockian innocent-on-the-run protagonist. Pour yourself a disgusting onion-based cocktail, ask your computer politely for a pizza, and join Gali, Devlin and Patrick for a trip back to the heady dial-up days of efficiently made Hollywood star vehicle thrillers.

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