The Net doesn't reduce the gifted and quick-witted Sandra Bullock to a shill for a cheap-jack thriller, but it's not for want of trying. Things begin promisingly with Bullock as Angela Bennett, a computer analyst with expertise in detecting and deleting viruses. But it's Angela who finds her own identity erased when she accidentally uncovers a program that could threaten national security. Bullock has the quick intelligence to spark a vivid techno-thriller. Sadly, The Net isn't it. It took five screenwriters – all men – to put her in situations that ask her to play dumb. To stretch what little there is of suspense, director Irwin Winkler forces his star into damsel-in-distress routines that demean the intelligence of her character.