Caught by the title? Good, that was the idea. Although what the
film itself has directly to do with the WWW or the NET remains
foggy at best. It could have been made years ago and called
Computer Cage or Murder by Modem and still have had the same
story line. In fact, the ill-received, but more exciting
Capricorn One from 1978 comes very close in different ways to
this "modern" story line.
Sandra Bullock has had a fruitful year and finally moved into the
ranks of the "discovered", but it seems a pity that her talents
have only succeeded in transporting her from a speeding bus to
a runaway trail where she once more takes the opportunity to
display her capacity as a firm, but fragile female who must
ultimately save the day and her own neck into the bargain.
She plays Angela Bennett, a top analyst who irons out bugs and tracks
down viruses for Cathedral Systems. (Please note the subtle
symbolism of both her first name as well as that of the company
she works for. Perhaps something evil is afoot?) She comes into
possession of a computer-diskette that some people would kill
for; in fact they often do. Blind to the complicity around her,
she slowly becomes aware of imminent danger after discovering
that someone has removed every trace of her true existence and
reestablished her computer record persona as a known criminal.
Racing full throttle on the path toward survival she manages to
wind up in the arms of a killer as well as getting an ex-lover
killed along the way. This girl may be a computer genius, but
she's not too clever. She attempts to escape both detection and
her pursuer during the final chase scene by disappearing among
2,000 marching AIDS demonstrators and moving with the crowd (in
the opposite direction). Clever, eh?
Renowned English actor Jeremy Northam and political satirist
Dennis Miller don't fare much better in their roles. Could it
be that the script and direction are too concerned with action
despite the acting talents available?
Irwin Winkler, the
producer behind such memorable films as "Raging Bull," The Right
Stuff," "GoodFellas," and "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?", has
been directing as well since 1989, making his debut in this area
"Guilty by Suspicion". On the other hand, his collaborations
with Scorsese, Boorman, Tavernier, Pollack, and Costa-Gavras,
Alan Pakula and Phillip Kaufman have turned out some pretty
churning, burning, and searing stuff.
Of more than passing interest is the location chosen for the
opening sequence at Haynes Point in front of J. Seward Johnson
Jr.'s striking environmental sculpture "The Awakening". Are they
trying to tell us something? The film deals with the issues of
privacy, identity, and the dangers of electronic recording. Such
potential abuses, however, are not as new as the producers
would like to pretend. (Take, for example, the registration
systems of WWII.)
Parallel activities and similar methods have
been around for a long time; the wide-range use of computers has
merely accelerated the abuse. The film, no matter how you look
at it, remains your usual thriller movie fare; the issues do not
succeed in becoming politically arousing.
In the meantime, on the more serious side, watch out for security
firewalls and backdoor access. In other words, cover your ass.
© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett