Picks and Pans Review: The Net

updated 08/07/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/07/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Sandra Bullock, Dennis Miller

Looks like somebody out there—maybe director-coproducer Irwin Winkler, maybe writers John Brancato or Michael Ferris—must have gotten a glitched-up computerized bill and decided to take out his resentment with this paranoid "technothriller," which wants to do for computers what Jaws did for great white sharks.

Winkler and Co., however, never generate enough tension to make computers seem any more menacing than an especially temperamental toaster.

Bullock is a freelance systems-and-programs analyst who stumbles on a top-secret program and suddenly finds her life being reprogrammed. Even her identity is changed by an unseen force that is represented IRL (in real life) by an underground team working with the FBI.

If Bullock is on the slight side all around, lapsed talk show host Miller, in his best movie role (though it's a truncated one), is nicely cast as her former therapist and ex-lover. He comes between her and a conspiracy represented by Jeremy Northam, an English actor stalwartly playing a hired gun shooting for the cyberterrorists.

While Bullock meanders from minor crisis to minor crisis, Winkler doesn't build much momentum. Bullock never seems embattled and panicky the way, say, Gene Hackman did in The Conversation or Kevin McCarthy did in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Amateur computer hackers may enjoy trying to follow all the inside jargon and gimmicky screen shots, but as a thriller this is an abort? fail? retry? situation. (PG-13)

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