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Netforce attempts to be a very serious technothriller in the year 2005, but fails miserably. Except for the fact that the plot is very tacky and not very well done, it's also spanned out over way to much time, the movie totals 2h40min. But this isn't really Netforce biggest problem. Being a bit of a geek myself this movie turned out to be much more of a comedy than a thriller. The technology and the events concerning it are so totally absurd that's unbelievable. Both me and my friends were virtually crying due to the sick things the director and/or Tom Clancy had in store. Some comments that sums it all up is "Phew, the Internet is intact!" and "Woah, another netcrash!". Deep, deep sigh. Not to mention the fact that the bad guys encryptions is broken in 3 seconds. Someone should tell them about, say RSA or DSS/DH algorithms. So, whatever you do, DON'T watch this movie unless a) You're totally nontechnical and can look aside all the gross mistakes or b) you're a hacker and wants a good laugh.
Made for television movies can never escape the feeling they we're made
for television. The taste, the sight and the scent. It's always there.
Tom Clancy's Netforce itself was originally a two part television movie
(how little did I know). In fact it's all still somewhat a wash. Let me
break it down for you.
Flash forward to 2005. The internet has become so powerful and potentially dangerous that the US government sets up a division within the FBI entitled "Netforce" to preside over it from the evil people of the world who look to exploit it for their corrupt plans. Personally I seriously disbelieve the internet holds the future of the world in it's grasp, but that doesn't matter because the people at Netforce couldn't protect it if they had to anyway.
Upon meeting the major characters we realize they're roles we've all seen before. Like the tough male main character who's strong and dresses well. The rest of the cast fit typical molds. I especially liked how a certain character's ex-wife is a news reporter who at one point becomes a key piece in the story. Everyone is so linked together. Realistic? No. Then again none of the characters have any real in-depth characterization. They're just names and faces. There's also too many needless minor secondary characters being thrown around adding nothing but padding and viewer confusion. It gets hard remembering twenty characters throughout a two plus hour movie. I want to give the movie credit for trying to develop them, but it fails because we know they're insignificant. Frankly I expected more from such an ensemble cast too.
Scott Bakula gets to look smart in suit -- the key word being "look". This project could have benefited from someone with more clout than Bakula. He's sufficient, but that's about it. Meanwhile Kris Kristofferson gets the cliché elder role and good 'ol Brian Dennehy has been given the plum task of the President's Chief Of Staff. That means him popping up spewing 'How his ass is on the line' or 'the President's p***ed at him'. Yes even good actors can't save bad scripts. That's a fact. Which bothers me even further because this product has Tom Clancy's name written all over it. Yet it isn't anywhere near the quality of his past outings. It's a real disservice. Some of the blame has to fall straight into the writer's lap too. I say this because I find it hard to see this as an adaptation project that started well. It was bad from the get-go. The story stinks. It's like amateur hour. Especially considering how much they squeeze into their time frame. Would more have helped? I'm hesitant to say. Even with over two hours they still came back with this slop. Frankly 160 minutes is a long time and there isn't enough depth to sustain a person's interest or the holding of disbelief for such a period.
It can't even be taken seriously. Like Judge Reinhold playing the 'evil multi-billion dollar software tycoon looking to control the world' or how corny it is to have FBI agents point loaded weapons in the faces of innocent cabdrivers. It's things like these that help make Netforce such a bore. There's absolutely no atmosphere and honestly for a film dealing so heavily with computers and the internet, they sure went skimpy enough on the technical aspects too. I guess they didn't want to lose their biggest viewing demographic ... computer inept coach potatoes and patriotic Tom Clancy fans.
For what it's trying to be, there's very little (if any) paranoia, suspense or "edge of your seat excitement" as so called critics would say. Netforce draws nothing but boredom and that's not exactly new territory. Last thing too. A golden rule of movies. If they don't find a body 95% of the time that's a clear signal the person ain't dead. That's the facts.
For a film based upon such a refined subject as computers and the
intricacies of the internet, I felt sure that there'd have to be some
sort of off-the-cuff humour injected somewhere during proceedings to
offset the technical detail. Surely they couldn't expect everybody to
get excited about firewalls, web browsers and computer crime without
something else to keep it company. Well, as it turns out, that's
exactly what they expected and the film turns out to be drier than
Some of the technical detail was stretched to the very limit of credibility - it seems they severely overshot what the internet would be like in 2005 - yet they still imagined we'd be using floppy disks? More research, and effort, was called for in places that's for sure.
Plus, it was an hour too long. Nearly 160 minutes is far too excessive for a film of its kind and an hour could easily have been taken off without too many problems. The acting was hokey - but not as bad as some TV movies - the technology very dodgy in parts and the romance subplot extremely wobbly, but anybody with even half an interest in computers and the internet may as well give it a go.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When this TVM was made in 1999 I was still somewhat ignorant of the
internet . Certainly I'd heard of it but being something of a Luddite I
failed to see why more and more people were becoming interested in it
and it wasn't until August 2001 that I become connected to the world
wide web . One thing I did notice about NETFORCE is that if I remained
ignorant about the internet this TVM wouldn't have appeared so bad to
!!!! MILD SPOILERS !!!!
One thing that really irritated me is how the writers seem to have confused computer technology with an all encompassing thing called " the internet " . For example the bad guys are able to gain access to the security systems of a maximum security prison via the internet . What you mean the computerised door locking system must connected to the internet in some way ? We see umpteen examples of this ridiculous thinking that because something is computerised it must be connected to the internet in someway ! No . No . No . Computerised systems and the internet are not the one and the same . For example if the internet collapsed tomorrow computers would still work even if it means you can't send emails or write reviews at the IMDb . I could still use my computer as a word processor or play computer games etc the world wouldn't suddenly revert to the stone age because the internet failed
There's also a ridiculous aspect to the team known as " Netforce " . Each member is a computer wizard and a crack secret agent . In effect they're a combination of a computer geek and a Delta Force member . Is this logical or realistic ? Why does a member have to be both a computer expert AND an elite law enforcement agent ? Why can't the organisation employ computer wizards to track down rogue computer operators and then send a crack team of commandos to round up the bad guys ?
The whole feel of this TVM screams " TV pilot " and I don't believe for a moment that Tom Clancey and co didn't toy with the idea that this would end up as a long running series but the flaws are instantly obvious . There's only a certain amount of plots in any genre and this techno thriller lasting three hours has used up all potential plots in one go . Be honest , just how long could you tolerate Scott Bakula as an action hero who spends 50% of an episode typing on a computer , 40% of an episode flirting with his female colleague and 10% of an episode shooting bad guys ?
I rented this because of Tom Clancy's name alone. What a mistake. All adaptations of his excellent books (with the possible except of "Red October") have ruined plots, hopeless scripts and near-intolerable acting from otherwise fine performers. This, sadly, was no different. Nothing in the look and feel of the movie even suggests Hollywood involvement -- it looks, and indeed IS, so badly done it seems to be a television series pilot (complete with "cut to commercial fade-outs") that did not make it. The video release is an attempt to regain some lost revenue. Movie plots still don't handle technology, and especially the Internet, realistically unless the story is full-bore sci-fi. Don't waste your time or money on this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I read the book long before I heard about the movie, and given past history with books being translated into movies, I expected NetForce to suck but hoped it didn't. Well, it sucks big time. I was hoping for something remotely close to the book, which it is... for about 10 minutes or so, until Steve Day is assassinated. Then, after that, it bears no resemblance to the book. I was disappointed, but based on my expectations, not THAT disappointed. 3 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Best-selling author Tom Clancy was executive producer of this made-for-
TV spy thriller entitled Netforce was shown on ABC back in 1999.It
stars Scott Bakula and Joanna Going together with Xander Berkeley,Anjul
Nigam and Judge Reinhold.The supporting cast includes Brian Dennehy,
Joanna Going,C.C.H. Pounder and Kris Kristofferson.
In the year 2005, the FBI has established a special division called "Netforce".It is responsible to investigate crimes committed using the Internet. Agents Alex Michaels and Steve Day are put on the case when software genius Will Stiles designs a Web browser that allows him to hack into Netforce's computer system and take control of the entire Internet for his own purposes.
It is a TV movie that is essentially a cautionary tale of futuristic cyberterrorism. Unfortunately,it is a blunt and somewhat rushed thriller with little time for character or relationship development. What it does offer is a scenario for the prospect of organized crime uniting with computer geeks and malevolent industrialists to sabotage national security through attacks on the Internet.The action bounces around from good guys to sundry bad guys, but there's no question that a creeping paranoia about Net vulnerability and its disastrous implications grows on the viewers especially of what could possibly happen in the future.
At 2h40mins, this movie runs waaaay too long. The pace is kept at a moderate level most of the way with above-average-for-a-tv-movie sounds and visuals, intended to keep the average person watching. But I'm not Mr Average and I was zoning in and out throughout the movie. I was motivated to rent this movie because I just read Jeffery Deaver's 'The Blue Nowhere,' which is an excellent thriller abt hacking. This movie seems more like a slow-moving FBI show. How can Scott Bakula, the leader of 'Netforce,' look as clueless as he does when his system is hacked? And for Internet cops, there sure is a lot of physical chasing and shooting. Sure there's a lot of techno-babble thrown in, but it's all gratuitous. The coolest vision of futuristic technology - VR pubs and brothels - doesn't even involve any special effects. Hacking i s demonstrated as a flood of rotating green numbers. On the brighter side, the acting's pretty good and not exaggerated. Don't rent this, catch it on TV on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
This is very much a television movie, a big idea made on a miniscule budget. Made in 1999, and set in the awesome future (everything distant is awesome) of 2005, it is still relevant, and some of its points mean more now than they did then. Tom Clancy obviously researched his subject well for his novel, and some of that made it onto the screen. In order to save money on extras, we are not shown a key funeral scene, but instead see two people sitting in a church afterwards talking about it; at the next funeral scene only two people are present, so that is cheap too. So many corners are cut, the film could be described as 'in the round'. Apart from a powerful and excellent performance by Judge Reinhold as a megalomaniac IT genius and entrepeneur, a larger than life 'down home' performance as the President's buddy by Brian Dennehy, and the super-cool acting of Kris Kristofferson, the rest of the cast are as colourless as wax dummies. The cinematography is atrocious, attempting to create dark brooding atmosphere with low lighting, but instead looking like it was all shot in an old fish tank which someone had forgotten to clean. When one is trying to follow a complex plot, it helps if one can see. Having said all this, the film deals with big issues. It also specifically names 'the evil behind the problem' as 'the New World Order', which is a surefire way not to be given a big budget, so maybe that is why this had to sneak onto the TV screens and not get the full treatment. It is more convincing than less realistic films like 'The Matrix', and has more to say about the real issues as opposed to big screen fantasies. Sometimes the lack of a budget concentrates the mind wonderfully, as Val Lewton proved. If you think about it, it is what we don't see in this film because they couldn't afford it, that we ought to be really worried about. The story was certainly ahead of its time in addressing the deadly issue of the monopolistic bundling of software, and it appears to be a savage attack on Bill Gates, while being careful to avoid getting sued by mentioning him explicitly as someone we don't see, so that they could not be accused of Judge Reinhold's character being a direct portrait of him. However, the messages are there. As one of the main characters says: 'the net has become a means of spreading greed and lust'. If that's what people have inside them, then that is what the amplifier of the net will blast back at us. All of human reality is basically a feedback loop in which we see ourselves for what we are. Maybe the only way to see that truth and still live with it is to see it shot inside a fishtank, so that we can dismiss it. After all, Planet Earth's budget is also too small.
This movie is actually pretty watchable if you are a bit technical and don't mind viewing a film to laugh at its inherent badness. The script repeatedly uses networking lingo out of context and demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of networking principles. My favorite scene is when they're searching logs for traces of a computer break-in and the hero exclaims when no traces are found "There's not even a cookie?!?". I expect even a non-tech should be able to find a couple of laughs about the overwhelming lack of technical advisement. Some understanding of distributed attacks and viruses might have helped, but I guess the idea of two hackers trying to out type each other works better for Hollywood. The cinematography is low-average for a made for TV. I liked Judge Reinhold's acting, and Kris Kristofferson, Bakula I found to be often flat or alternately overacted. Conclusion: Don't rent it unless you're into bad movies, worth catching on Cable on a slow day.
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