The Net 2.0 (Review)

The Net 2.0

Nikki Deloach as Hope Cassidy
Sebnem Dönmez as Roxelana
Demet Akbag as Dr. Kavak
Keegan Connor Tracy as Z.Z. Jackson
Neil Hopkins as James Haven
Güven Kirac as Osman
Directed by Charles Winkler

A rehash in the hashiest sense, The Net 2.0 is not only an inferior photocopy of the previous film’s plot, it ramps up the clichés to an exponential factor in reverse proportion to its shrinking in scope. In place of Sandra Bullock, we have Mickey Mouse Club alum Nikki Deloach (who went from a Mouseketeer dating N*SYNC’s JC to making DTV films in Turkey) as Hope Cassidy. That name wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t keep repeating that Hope was all she has left (Following which we let loose more vomit than the sum printed on every Garbage Pail Kid sticker!) Being that the world was screaming for a sequel to The Net, to answer all those lingering questions left over from the TV series, such as “Are those Pi Symbol guys defeated?”, “Was that the movie that turned Dennis Miller from hilarious comedian to unfunny rightwing shill?” and “There was a TV series???” Instead of keeping the international conspiracy angle, this cheapened version also cheapens the plot, turning it into a simple robbery. This dropping of the conspiracy eliminates the only interesting angle of the original, while instead of an international supergroup the villains turn out to be just a pair of one-dimensional goons. WOOOoooOOOoOOOoOoOoOO! Fear the one-dimensional goons! They will erase your identity if you ever take a job in Turkey! Well, maybe you can get a job in a Cuneyt Arkin film, or the DTV Cocktail 2: Cock Harder!

Having never seen the TV series, I have no idea if it was cancelled in the middle of a plotline that this was originally intended to answer. Since 2.0 has zero connections story-wise, it was probably not greenlighted to finish any stories, but to jump onto the cash cow of DTV (Direct to Video) sequels that are now plaguing Blockbuster and Hollywood Video like locusts in Biblical Egypt. Movies like Single White Female 2: The Psycho, Species III, Wild Things 3: Diamonds in the Rough, and House of the Dead 2 pull in enough of a profit in video presales before they’re even released to make it worthwhile, so director turned producer Irwin Winkler placed his son in charge of direction (the original title was The Net 2.0: Nepotism) so they’d rake in all the dough, making the Winkler family even richer, and it’s not even Henry Winkler’s family. Can’t the Fonz catch a break? At least he was on Arrested Development.

With all the magic hacking power of the two villains, one wonders why they had to resort to this identity erasing as a frame-up for their robbery when they could put it to good use ripping off slightly smaller targets that would still make them rich enough to never have to work again. There are literally thousands of unsecured and easily accessible places to go, for people with that super power of hacking. The same super power of hacking that Matthew Broderick had in WarGames, or Wolverine possessed in Swordfish, these two idiots are using to goof around, and the heroine is even more super powered than them. Scary note on the WarGames reference, WarGames 2 has been greenlit for DTV! I’m sure it will be just as terrible as the title sounds.

We start out with the lame voiceover as Hope is on the run in Turkey. She probably said something insulting about President Ahmet Necdet Sezer or mentioned the Armenian genocide, and thus is being chased by the police. This is similar to many American vacations in Turkey, so it’s quite a surprise when we find out she’s not supposed to be being chased by the police, as she was framed. Hope treats us the one of the worst lines in the world about all she has left is her name, Hope. Good thing her father didn’t name her “Despair” or “Just Give Up Now.” Then she gets blindsided by a bus and winds up in Turkish Prison. Being interviewed by Dr. Kavak the Turkish police psychologist, she cuts to a flashback as to how she got into this predicament. So Hope is an Internet wizard who Internets a lot, despite looking nothing like any Internet guru in the universe. Where is the neckbeard, 300 extra pounds, acne, and awkward timidness in social situations? Working on an infected laptop, she manages to stop the invading virus before time runs out. Yes, the virus had a countdown displayed on the computer as to how long it would be before it destroyed the laptop. Just chew on that wonderful understanding of modern technology for a few seconds. Hope’s such a good Interneter, she’s gotten a job offer from a firm in Turkey that will pay her a boatload of cash. Her boyfriend, James, doesn’t want her to go, and is staying behind for school despite the fact she bought him a ticket. He tries to lay on the “nice guy” shtick, which basically points him out as Bad Guy #1. Oops, I just spoiled part of the movie. Not that it’s important or you wouldn’t have seen it coming from 60 million miles away.

Hope hops on a plane and gets to flying over to Turkey, on the plane she befriends a flight attendant named Roxelana who tells Hope her favorite hangout joint. While Hope is busy flirting with the flight attendant, the camera cuts to her active laptop, which is connected via Airplane Internet over the ocean to her bank account, which we watch drain down to zero. It’s like a countdown. A countdown of the audience’s patience. Why someone is taking all her money out of her account one cent at a time, yet doing the transactions within nanoseconds of each other is never explained in the movie. Yes, I’m kidding, I am well aware that it’s just a visual effect; I just want to stave off several irate emails from the five people who will read this article (Me, my girlfriend, user LilCerberus, and two guys Googling for “Mouseketeer Porn”.) Also, the movie’s entire explanation for having the internet while over the ocean is “Magic.”

Hope hops off the plane in Istanbul (not Constantinople) and grabs a cab. The cabbie is the most likable character in the film, Turkish actor Güven Kirac playing Osman. He takes a scenic tour of Istanbul and is a loyal friend to Hope. Which means he’s either going to be a bad guy or dead. Which will it be? Osman gives a history lesson of Turkey while we get a lot of POV shots of security cameras watching Hope. It’s like the director rented Enemy of the State the night before. Osman is charming, funny, and the only person in the film you don’t want to see dead. I’d pay good money for movies about Osman the cab, but instead we get Annoying Computer Girl, the Movie. Somehow she only got a tourist visa, so must head to the American Consulate and gets her temporary passport set up, it is by a guy with a butterfly tattoo on his hand. They are careful to make sure we notice the butterfly tattoo. BUTTERFLY TATTOO! SUSPICIOUS! BUTTERFLY!

Hope arrives at the hotel (still by cab, Osman cab, who gives her his card) and as soon as she arrives, a fire alarm goes off. This forces the hotel to have to be evacuated, and outside Hope meets fellow American Z.Z., played by Jake 2.0‘s Keegan Connor Tracy, and they chat. As they are walking, we see shadows and flashlights in Hope’s room. Z.Z. claims she was conceived to a ZZ Top song, which isn’t the reference I was hoping for (for the record, Z.Z. Ziff from Nickelodeon’s Salute Your Shorts would have been much better!) They are bothered in the park by Orloff the scarf salesman. He has a bald head and gigantic mustache. ORLOFF! IMPORTANT! BUTTERFLY!!

Hope gets her passport delivered, finding it has the same address and picture of her, but a different name. Also, when Hope tries to leave her a message, the front desk of the hotel tells her there is no Z.Z. Jackson registered. Confused, she goes to her job, and gets inside despite the fact all her other IDs are now mysteriously missing. Hmmmmm…. She’s working for Turkish bank firm named Goliath which is the most Super Computery Computer in the World, named Abraham (I was hopping for WOPR.) It runs billions of dollars of bank transactions a day (That exchanges to Octillions of Old Turkish Lira of bank transactions a day.) The entire programming process seems to have been in doing goofy graphics, as the program has minimal security, thus Hope’s job is to make it more secure than the leaky sieve it currently is. This she easily does, until the Internet hits the fan! The firm gets a call from….Hope Cassidy! (The other, faker Hope Cassidy.)

FLASH FORWARD!! We jump to Hope still being interviewed, a cop comes in to tell us that Butterfly Tattoo is dead. Not Butterfly Tattoo! Who will go next, Orloff? Osman? Why kill all the interesting people and leave the losers? Bah! FLASHBACK RESUMES…

Real Hope gets escorted from the building, but makes a daring escape, thanks to the help of cabbie Osman. Osman tells her that Goliath is owned by the Russian mafia. Hope sneaks back into the building to confront the fake Hope, which turns out to be…Z.Z.! Of course it is. The bank boss comes in, saying that $14 million is missing from the bank, and they try to arrest Hope. Hope escapes again, heads to the parking garage, where Osman is dead. DEAD! Osman, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! He was the only good part of this movie, so charming, so special. Now he’s just wormfood. That’s it, Net 2.0 can kiss my Flashdrive! Hope finds out her life has become a bad movie that’s filmed in Turkey where your identity is stolen… It’s like The Twilight Zone and she’s the guest actor of the week. Good thing for her she didn’t look out the window on her earlier flight, she might have seen that thing on the wing. She’s being shot at by mysterious people, so escapes in a truck. We get a driving chase as she’s followed by goons with guns trying to shoot her dead. The chase is pretty good for a messy DTV movie, they even manage to have a propane tank explode on an enemy car, and the classic fruit stand…is missed! Take that, movie conventions! The movie’s lone example of originality might just be a botched stunt, though. The chase then moves to on foot after a crash, and after going through an underground tunnel, she escapes by ferry. What sexual innuendo is Hope running through a tunnel and hopping on a ferry representing? Let’s just say Director Charles Winkler is a messed up man.

Hope wanders the city, and heads to an Internet Cafe/Hooka House to check her email. Her Hotmail account has been deleted ([email protected]) so she checks the local news, and sees herself on the headlines: Internet Thief Wanted for Murder! It talks about a dead detective….Osman the cabbie was a detective? What the Donkeylips? Hope spends the night sleeping in someone’s garden (watch out for tomato worms.) Next morning, Hope will break into the computer system she just made secure to find out how the money was moved. She sneaks inside the building the computer is located in, and defeats the security cameras by recording images of a blank room on her cell phone and uploading the loop of the blank room to the camera system, which is for some reason connected to the internet. She then does a “probability search” to find the new access code, which tells her which keys are the most likely to be hit at a certain time. That’s overly complex, as if she can do that, she should just add a keylogger to the system to get the whole password that way. But, if she’s able to do any of this, than she didn’t make the Abraham Computer System very secure in the first place, now did she? She should be fired.

She gets in, finds some info, and has to escape when the alarm is triggered. The Russian Mob head of Goliath shoots his head of security for his failure (tough boss, but he’s allowed his super computer to be unprotected for so long?) and demands that the rest of his men find her. Hope remembers the stewardess telling her about her favorite hangout, and goes there, finding stewardess Roxalana easily easily. She tells the whole story, which the stewardess seems to buy and takes her home, for her first shower and meal in a while. Also, ORLOFF is there and watches her leave with Stewardess Roxalana. Hope checks something using Roxalana’s internet, which triggers an alert the second she touches the keyboard. Because the internet requires retina scanning/fingerprint ID, therefore it always knows the name and location of everyone on the internet at every time. Hope loved Big Brother. Hope pretends to be a bank president in her email, using one click to translate a message to perfect Turkish (yeah, right, it probably sounds more like “I for you go to trumpet robot seven #poppy* blubber” thanks to Babelfish.) She also has a wonderful sequence where she drags a photo of her face over a regular photo with the bank president, and the machine reads the images and alters it to fit in the sheet. It’s like automated Photoshop, maybe Hope borrowed this ridiculous programming from CSI. Enhance zoom!

Someone breaks into the apartment during all this and attacks Roxalana. She doesn’t die, and even shoots the intruder in the back. FLASHFOREWARD – there is no evidence of a struggle or a body in the apartment, and no record of Roxalana – FLASHBACK. Hope then threatens Z.Z. by phone, as Z.Z. uses AIM to contact someone. As Z.Z. is a female, I guess she isn’t in contact with former Republican House Member Mark Foley. Hope forces Z.Z. to meet her at a cafe, but is literally stabbed in the back by the time Hope arrives (why didn’t Z.Z. just call the cops?) and Hope stupidly gets her prints all over the bloody knife (and blood all over her hands.) The cops come and chase her through town, bus smashes, and we END FLASHBACK!

Dr. Kavak still doesn’t believe her, and Hope freaks out. She’s drugged, and then awakes in a hotel room with her boyfriend James sitting there. He claims he got her out due to a well-placed call to the embassy. All of Hope’s clothes are missing, but we see nothing as Nikki Deloach’s former Mickey Mouse Club upbringing prevents us from getting a glimpse of her Mouseketeers. James then says something that reminds Hope of what Z.Z. said earlier, tipping her off that he’s the villain. There is a guard in the room as well, and Hope hits him, dangling him over the edge of the balcony of the window, like she’s Michael Jackson and the guard is her infant son. James pulls a gun on her, and the guard ends up falling to his death. James then throws Hope around a bit, all while explaining how he was in on it the entire time, how Hope is a patsy, and she just ups and escapes on him. James, you moron.

Hope’s escape is cut short by ORLOFF! MUSTACHE!! Orloff turns out to be an agent of Interpol, as is Roxalana! James’s real name is David Thompson, and Dr. Kavak is an evil cop who is also in on it. They come up with a plan to bring them down, and Hope lets herself be recaptured by James. James shoots her dead, the end. Wait, that’s what should have happened! Instead, James is an idiot and keeps her alive to help open a safety deposit box (they’ve done all this and can’t fake her identity one last time to retrieve the box?) Dr. Kavak is there as well helping out. They get it, but outside the Russian Mafia is waiting for them. Not the Russian Mafia! As an aside, when will we get the definitive Russian gangster movie? Godfatherkov. The Russian Mafia determines everyone must die. I agree with them 100%. This movie killed Osman, it must pay by losing all its remaining characters. Sadly, no. Interpol attacks, and everyone does get shot, including Hope, but she’s not really dead. James is captured, and the Russian Mafia Chief escapes to his car, but Roxelana shoots it four times, causing it to explode in a fiery cavalcade of death. The car was also moving, but when it explodes it manages to suddenly brake to a complete stop. That must be a new feature, antilock brake exploding. Power windows no extra charge. The safety deposit box’s content was in the car as well, $14 million in Turkish bonds, all burnt to ash.

We get the big reveal the Hope is still alive, not that it fooled anyone, bullet proof vest and squibs are the oldest trick in the book. Hope now has a new name set up: Diana Moon. Ignoring her joke of a name, if they make another sequel we’ll soon be forced to hear that “Diana is all she has left.” She also has $5 million in her bank account, as she stole it from the thieves when we weren’t looking. Someone is looking, as we get another POV shot of a surveillance camera. Finally, The Net 2.0 is over.

The best part of this movie isn’t even a part of the movie (except Osman), instead, the Internet Movie Database Message Boards, usually a collection of some of the worst postings in the history of the Internet, exploded with people complaining about the film weeks before it was released. This lead to an amazing post:

How is this even possible? I don’t even have a copy of the finished film…and I driected it! It’s not due to hit the street until Feb! Please tell me how you found it. [email protected]

Yes, director Charles Winkler is getting into online fights with internet pirates! One named hero_antagonist responds:

Hope you didn’t like that email address. Who would admit to that and invite the non stop hate mail that disclosing responsibility for making this pile? Look welcome to the age of the all powerful dork. We have copies and you don’t because we OWN the friking internet. And we all have day jobs. Some within your production crew, or in the lab that develops your film or transfers you DV. The best is when you send us Screener copies! Then you’re just a win Rip away from instant internet distribution. Look if it makes you feel any better, you can stop viewing this as piracy. Look at it this way we wouldn’t buy this tripe of a movie if we only had that option. We would be reading books if it wisent for the p2p tools we have, like we did for decades b4 the new forms of media cropped up. So it’s not like your losing money, well maybe a lil, there was no money there to begin with. If you lose anything its the two weeks of distribution time b4 word of mouth gits around that your movie is hated by your target audience, a small window where movies like this used to make there money. Well them day IS ova. I guess you’ll have to go back to the drawing bored and try to fig out a diff way to make a living. Sry.

That grammar is so bad I called up all my English teachers to thank them for never giving up on me. hero_antagonist wouldn’t be caught dead reading a book, because he has the literary level of a brain-dead mollusk. His pirate bragging is also idiotic, as he probably is being sued by the RIAA right now for downloading xXx 2: State of the Union thanks to his “all powerful dork” skills. He doesn’t even own a spellchecker, much less the Internet. The one thing this does show is that a director from a movie where the Internet features prominently doesn’t understand technology enough to see how this happened, thus exposing the amount of research that went into this film – none. Nepotism at its finest, and The Net 2.0‘s biggest fault. Unless you like boring, average films, stay away.

Rated 2/10 (BUTTERFLY!!, Babelfish works better in bad movies)

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