Antitrust Peter Howitt
Published Dec 01, 2000One can't help but feel a little sorry for technology-based movies that are destined to be hopelessly out of date by the time they reach the video shelves. "Antitrust" will far too soon have the technological relevancy of "WarGames," but without any of that movie's charm. "Antitrust" will be left with just its predictable thriller plot and silly, outmoded dialogue.
The film has a young computer programming genius Milo (Ryan Phillippe) who is wooed into working for Microsoft-style computer conglomerate NURV to help build the ultimate global satellite communications network that would have the ability to transmit information to every computer, phone and television in the world simultaneously. Things go awry when Milo starts to realise that his billionaire boss (Tim Robbins doing his best Bill Gates impression) is evilly masterminding a scheme that covertly steals information and techniques from competing programmers and then kills them. There is hardly a moment in this movie when you don't know exactly what's going to happen next. The plot is so obvious and contrived that there are very few actual surprises or twists, which does not make for a very good thriller. The script and the direction are often laughably bad, and the acting doesn't do much to help either. Ryan Phillippe may well be the worst actor of his generation, and Claire Forlani and Rachael Leigh Cook, both playing love interests for Milo who may or may not be part of the conspiracy, don't convey much of anything at all. Even the talented Tim Robbins, who one can only hope is slumming here in order to fund his much more worthy personal projects, is so over-the-top in his evil tantrums that he just comes across as goofy.
It's too bad, because the ideas at the core of "Antitrust" are valid ones and deserve to be explored better than this. The film tries to talk about the necessity for free and open exchange of information and technology, but undermines its message by focusing on the cartoonishly evil deeds of NURV rather than questioning the validity of the actual business practices employed by such companies.