|Directed by||Irwin Winkler|
|Written by||John Brancato|
|Produced by||Irwin Winkler|
|Cinematography||Jack N. Green|
|Edited by||Richard Halsey|
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$110.6 million|
In the film, a systems analyst with few personal contacts learns that all records about her life have been deleted, and that her house has been emptied. She has to find a way to reclaim her identity.
Angela Bennett is a freelance systems analyst worker in Venice, California. All of her relationships are almost completely online and on the phone, with the exception of forgettable interactions with her neighbors and visits to her mother, who is institutionalized with Alzheimer's disease and often forgets who she is.
Bennett's co-worker, Dale, in San Francisco, sends her a floppy disk of the game "Mozart's Ghost" with a backdoor labeled "π" that permits access to a commonly used computer security system called "Gatekeeper" sold by Gregg Microsystems, a software company led by CEO Jeff Gregg.
Dale and Bennett agree to meet the next morning, as he is planning on taking his own plane, but the navigation system in Dale's private aircraft malfunctions and it crashes into a tower, killing him.
Bennett travels to Cozumel, Mexico, on vacation, where she meets Jack Devlin. After seducing Bennett, Devlin pays a mugger to steal her purse as they walk along the beach. He chases the mugger into the bushes, catches the mugger, and roots through the purse to find the disk before shooting the mugger dead.
He takes Bennett out on his speedboat to kill her as well, but she finds his gun and confronts him. While fleeing with the disk and Devlin's wallet, Bennett's dinghy collides with rocks. She is unconscious in the hospital for three days.
When Bennett wakes up, she finds that the disk was ruined by the sun and all records of her life have been deleted: She was checked out of her hotel room in Cancun, her car is no longer at the airport parking lot, and her credit cards are invalid. Bennett's home is now empty and listed for sale.
Moreover, because none of the neighbors remember her, they cannot confirm her identity. Bennett's Social Security number is now assigned to a "Ruth Marx", for whom Devlin has entered an arrest record by using the Gatekeeper backdoor to hack the police computer system.
When Bennett calls her own desk at Cathedral Software, an imposter answers and offers Bennett her old life back in exchange for the disk. She contacts the only other person who knows her by sight, psychiatrist and former lover Alan Champion. He checks her into a hotel, offers to contact a friend at the FBI, and arranges to have her mother moved for her safety.
Using her knowledge of the backdoor and a password found in Devlin's wallet, Bennett logs into the Bethesda Naval Hospital's computers and learns that Under Secretary of Defense Bergstrom, who had opposed Gatekeeper's use by the federal government, was murdered by altering the results of his HIV test leading to a misdiagnosis. Fellow hacker "Cyberbob" connects π with the "Praetorians", a notorious group of cyberterrorists linked to recent computer failures around the country. Bennett and Cyberbob plan to meet, but the Praetorians intercept their online chat. Bennett escapes from Devlin—a contract killer for the cyberterrorists, but the Praetorians kill Champion by tampering with pharmacy and hospital computer records. After Bennett is arrested by the California Highway Patrol, a man identifying himself as Champion's FBI friend frees her from jail. She realizes he is an imposter and escapes again, resulting in the impostor's death in a car crash.
Now wanted for murder and thought to be Ruth Marx, Bennett hitchhikes to Cathedral's office where, using her imposter's computer, she connects the cyberterrorists to Gregg Microsystems and uncovers their scheme: once the Praetorians sabotage an organization's computer system, Gregg sells Gatekeeper to it and gains unlimited access through the backdoor. Bennett emails evidence of the backdoor and Gregg's involvement with the Praetorians to the FBI from the Moscone Center and tricks Devlin into releasing a virus into Gregg's mainframe, destroying Gatekeeper and undoing the erasure of her identity. During a battle on the catwalks of the convention center, in which Devlin accidentally kills the Bennett imposter from Cathedral Software (the real Ruth Marx), Bennett ambushes Devlin with a fire extinguisher, causing him to fall to his death. Bennett regains her identity, home, and life. She then reunites with her mother, and the conspiracy is exposed, with Jeff Gregg being arrested by the FBI, live on television.
In October 1994, Bullock committed to filming The Net from mid-January through April 10, 1995. The Net was filmed in San Francisco's Moscone Center on Thursday, 5 January 1995, during Macworld as well as at Washington, D.C., locations in April 1995.
With an estimated budget of $22 million and a release date of July 28, 1995, The Net grossed $50.7 million in the United States and Canada. Including foreign markets, the film grossed $110.6 million worldwide.
Based on 55 reviews, it has an average score of 5.4 out of 10 on Rotten Tomatoes with 44% of critics giving positive reviews. The site's consensus states: "The premise isn't without potential and Sandra Bullock is as likable as ever, but The Net lacks sufficient thrills – or plausible plot points – to recommend catching." Metacritic, using a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 51 out of 100 based on 22 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, describing The Net as basically an update of an Alfred Hitchcock trope ("Innocent Person Wrongly Accused"), which was in parts contrived but carried by Bullock's naturalistic performance. Owen Gleiberman, writing for Entertainment Weekly, complimented Sandra Bullock's performance, saying, "Bullock pulls you into the movie. Her overripe smile and clear, imploring eyes are sometimes evocative of Julia Roberts". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Sequel and spin-off TV series
A sequel named The Net 2.0, starring Nikki DeLoach as Hope Cassidy and directed by Charles Winkler, son of Irwin Winkler, was announced in February 2005. It was released direct-to-video in 2006, and was about a young systems analyst who arrives in Istanbul for her new job, to find that her identity has been stolen.
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