The Net (film): Wikis


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The Net

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Irwin Winkler
Produced by Rob Cowen
Irwin Winkler
Written by Eric Joseph dela Cruz
Michael Ferris
Starring Sandra Bullock
Jeremy Northam
Dennis Miller
Wendy Gazelle
Music by Mark Isham
Jeff Rona
Editing by Richard Halsey
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) July 28, 1995
Running time 114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22 million
Followed by The Net (TV series)
The Net 2.0

The Net is a 1995 American drama film directed by Irwin Winkler and featuring Sandra Bullock, Jeremy Northam and Dennis Miller. The storyline is based on the public fear of Big Brother in the United States. The film was retold in an expanded format in the 1998–1999 television series of the same name and followed by a direct-to-video sequel, The Net 2.0, produced and directed by the son of producer Irwin Winkler, in 2006. The sequel shares a thematically similar plot, but with different characters.



Under Secretary of Defense Michael Bergstrom commits suicide after taking an HIV test and finding out that he tested positive.

Angela Bennett (Bullock) is a software programmer whose life so completely revolves around computers that she rarely ever has to leave her house in Los Angeles. The company that she works for, Cathedral Software, is located in another city (San Francisco) and she works from home; even simple tasks like ordering dinner are done via the internet. Her interpersonal relationships are also internet-chat exclusive, limiting her interaction with neighbors in her own community. This is partially triggered by Angela's sadness over her Alzheimer's suffering mother (Diane Baker).

Then we see Angela Bennett testing a new video game (Wolfenstein 3D). The game is apparently infected with a virus which gets activated when one presses the Escape key. The person with whom she's speaking on the speakerphone "wants to get it on store shelves by week's end". She uses various tools to remove the virus from the game, but she saves a copy of it to a floppy disk. She then sends the disk to Dale, a friend of hers who collects viruses and works on-site at her company.

When Dale sends Angela a new game on disk called Mozart's Ghost, they discover that it contains a backdoor to a new computer security software system, called the Gatekeeper, that is being installed on major government and military systems across the globe. Using the correct keystroke (control+shift + click the pi logo), it is possible to gain completely open access to the system in question. Dale, who is at the moment flying in his private Cessna airplane set on autopilot, explains that he "accessed Amtrak and the Mayo Clinic" and that the disk is very dangerous. They agree to meet in person (for the first time) to discuss the issue further, but no sooner does Angela make these plans than Dale's plane suddenly crashes.

On the day after the accident, Angela begins a trip to Cozumel, Mexico where she meets a handsome British-accented man named Jack Devlin (Jeremy Northam). On the beach, Angela takes out her laptop and takes another look at the program containing the backdoor.

Jack sweeps Angela off her feet; they seem to have everything in common, including the same favorite cocktail (a Gibson, which is a Martini with a pearl onion garnish). That very same evening, the day before Angela would leave again, Jack pretends to protect Angela from a mugging where her purse is stolen, be ends up being a ruse to steal a diskette from her purse. After that the two set out on Jack's company speedboat for a romantic evening which leads to them sleeping together. When Jack steps away, Angela puts on his jacket and discovers his gun. She confronts him.

Jack reveals that he was actually sent by an internet terrorist group known as the Praetorians. He has been stalking her on the internet to find out all of her likes/dislikes so that he could seduce her. He quotes her exact words from a chat conversation we saw earlier in the movie. They intend for him to retrieve the disk in question and kill her. A struggle ensues. Angela knocks Jack out and retrieves his wallet which contains the disk. Angela escapes using a dingy, only to crash into some rocks. When she awakes she is in a Mexican hospital and she learns that the disk was damaged by the water and the burning hot sun which melted it.

After she leaves the hotel, Angela now begins to discover what the Praetorians are capable of with their backdoor. The hotel desk worker informs her that she has already checked out. She goes to Customs to try and return home, applying for a temporary Visa (as her passport was stolen along with her purse, a theft which was arranged by Jack, who earlier shot the man he had hired to stage the fake theft). The woman at Customs presents Angela with a temporary Visa form with the name "Ruth Marx" on it but with her photograph and social security number correctly filled in. Desperate to return home, Angela signs the name next to her photo on the application.

When Angela gets home in the evening, after finding her car missing at the airport's parking lot, she finds her house is completely empty. She startles a real estate agent who thinks she is a late straggler for an open-house viewing and offers to show her the property.

The Police are called in but no one can identify Angela as the resident of the house. A neighbor is brought in but she has never met Angela; a woman claiming to be Angela came and arranged for the possessions to be moved out and for the sale of the house. While Angela realizes something very serious is going on, the Police ask her for identification. She gives them the "Ruth Marx" Visa, and one of the policemen goes to call it in.

Angela escapes through the bathroom just as the cop is coming back to arrest her. When the policeman ran "Ruth Marx" through the system, it brought up outstanding warrants for her arrest for prostitution, possession of drugs and theft, along with Angela's photograph. During her confrontation with the police, we saw Jack in a car, using a laptop and cell phone, editing the file for "Ruth Marx", adding various criminal offenses and outstanding warrants. (It is implied that he used the Gatekeeper backdoor to access this system to perform these edits.) Angela begins to wander the streets; she stole the real estate agent's cell phone earlier. She calls her workplace hoping to find someone who can identify her, but when saying that it is "Angela Bennett calling" she is transferred to Angela Bennett, or more precisely, someone posing as her.

The fake Angela has begun working at the company's site in San Francisco and advises the real Angela to "give us the disc and we'll give you back your life." Angela, in a complete panic, contacts her friend and former lover (and also former therapist) Alan Champion (Dennis Miller), the only person she can think of who knows her by sight. With Jack hot on her tail (he's triangulated the location of the cell phone she was using), the skeptical Alan puts Angela up in a hotel, providing her with the clothes from his other ex-girlfriend who had the same sizes as Angela. Alan later has to check into the hospital and has to stay for a few days.

Angela utilizes the internet to uncover the master plan of the Praetorians, which is to install their own Gatekeeper software into the mainframes of several government and military computer systems. The Gatekeeper software contains a trojan horse which enables the Praetorians unlimited access to the systems where their software is installed. When Angela enters an Internet code that Devlin had, it takes to a classified government file, which is of Secretary of Defense Michael Bergstrom. The file shows that there was no sign of HIV when the police coroner did the autopsy on him. She manages to make contact with an online acquaintance, "Cyberbob," who agrees to meet her at the amusement park. Jack homes in on this online chat and kills the real "Cyberbob," taking his place and trying to kidnap Angela. At the amusement park, she is surprised to run into Jack who grabs her, consoling her by saying that he did love her. Fortunately, a clown gets in their way and when Jack manages to throw him off, Angela has evaded him again.

Returning to the hospital, she witness Alan pass away in his bed. The computer records show that he died of diabetes, although he did not check into the hospital having this problem, furthermore Angela knows that he did never had such a condition. Angela, suspecting that the Praetorians altered the medical records and slipped a toxin into Alan's IV, angrily knocks over a computer monitor at the nurses' station. The next morning, she tries to escape the police in Alan's BMW 5-series which she crashes in an attempt to lose the cops.

After being framed as a thief, she is thrown in jail, but supposed FBI agent Ben Philips gets her released and she accompanies him. However, when the agent asks her about the disk, she realizes that he is another one of Jack's tricks. Angela steps on the accelerator and removes the agent's seatbelt in a scuffle, causing the agent to lose control and crash the Chevrolet Caprice into a parked Lincoln Continental Coupe. Ironically, inside the Lincoln is Jack and he gives chase when he realizes that it is Angela, but he is forced to a halt by a lift-bridge. Staying in a motel that evening, she sees news of the car accident on TV, which states that an unidentified man killed, and "Ruth Marx" was a passenger in that vehicle. The news anchor also reports that Bergstrom's successor as Under Secretary of Defense has announced that the Gatekeeper program will be installed throughout the federal government.

The next day, Angela decides to go to the Cathedral Software in San Francisco where the fake Angela Bennett is working. The impostor has similar complexion, build, and hair to the real Angela. Angela tracks the fake "Angela" logging into the Gatekeeper software, and then Angela sets off a fake fire-alarm which forces the evacuation of entire building. While the impostor suspects that the real Angela is near and urgently wishes to get back to the office, Angela starts tracking the real identity of the Praetorians: Jeff Gregg, the billionaire founder and CEO of the company who created the Gatekeeper software. She performs a network search to prove the identity of the masked "PRAETORIAN" nickname is indeed Jeff Gregg himself. Secretary of Defense Michael Bergstrom had been opposed to the Gatekeeper program, and Gregg had his Praetorians cause his death in order to remove one of the major obstacles to winning the Pentagon contract. She saves all the evidence on a floppy disk, and goes to a computer convention, to get away from the returning "Angela" - she just escapes in time, and in fact left the "save as" dialog on screen, which prompts "Angela" to call Jack and pursue the real Angela.

Once at the convention, she visits the booth featuring her company, and uses the computer to send E-mail to an FBI address. She sends a copy of the diskettes contents to the FBI along with a message explaining her situation. Jack finds her at the booth and attempts to login to the FBI to delete the message she's just sent, but Angela tricks Jack into instead releasing a virus into the mainframe - the same virus exhibited at the start of the movie, which was left in Angela's desk. While Jack and "Angela" are distracted trying to stop the virus from destroying the entire server network for the Praetorians and identifying their boss Gregg to the authorities, Angela escapes. Jack and "Angela" eventually give chase which leads to an unlit and under-construction part of the convention center. In the darkness and confusion, Jack fires upon who he thinks to be the real Angela, but due to their similar complexion, he accidentally kills his partner "Angela" instead. While Jack is outside searching for Angela, she ambushes him using a fire extinguisher to knock him off a catwalk, sending him to his death.

At home, Angela watches a news broadcast showing the arrest of Jeff Gregg at his penthouse, based on a tip that the FBI had received from an anonymous person. The report also states that the bodies of Ruth Marx (the fake Angela) and an unidentified male (Jack Devlin) were found.


Box office

With an estimated budget of $22 million and a release date of July 28, 1995, The Net earned $50,727,965 in domestic box office. Including foreign markets, the film grossed $110,627,965 worldwide and an additional $23,771,600 in rentals (USA).  

Critical response

The film was not received well overall by most critics, gathering a rating of only 30% at Rotten Tomatoes.[1] Roger Ebert gave a positive review of three stars.[2]
Angela, the main character, ordered a pizza for home delivery while working online which, at the time, was not yet an option in major cities like Chicago, as restaurants and food ordering companies had not yet developed a Net presence. In a case of life imitating art, online food ordering subsequently emerged on the Net.


Additionally, Sandra Bullock was nominated for "Most Desirable Female" at the 1996 MTV Movie Awards.


  1. ^ The Net at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2009-10-31.
  2. ^ * Roger Ebert Review 3/4 stars

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Net

  • "Give us the disk and we'll give you your life back."
  • "Just think about it. Our whole world is sitting there on a computer. It's in the computer, everything: your, your DMV records, your, your social security, your credit cards, your medical records. It's all right there. Everyone is stored in there. It's like this little electronic shadow on each and everyone of us, just, just begging for someone to screw with, and you know what? They've done it to me, and you know what? They're gonna do it to you."
  • "No, I'm stupid for trying to impress you." "Well, for future reference, I prefer the company of the living."
  • "I'm Angela Bennett! I'm Angela Bennett!"
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