banner image

:: Antitrust

If you’ve ever thought that taking the plot of The Firm, mixing it with the world of The Net and casting it with nubile young things was a great commercial idea, then look no further that Antitrust. Milo Hoffman (Ryan Phillipe) is a promising young computer programmer about to launch a high tech start up with his best friend Teddy, an idealist who believes knowledge belongs to everyone. But Milo is recruited by Gary ‘I’m not Bill Gates’ Winston (Tim Robbins), the head of N.U.R.V, which stands for Never Underestimate Radical Vision, a multi billion dollar software corporation, to work on his new project, SYNAPSE. SYNAPSE will link all known forms of communication by satellite and is the next big thing in computer software. Teddy warns Milo about the evils of big capitalist companies who want to put a price on knowledge but Milo and his girlfriend Alice (Claire Forlani) are lured by money and Winston’s convincing, ‘I’m not a bad guy and why is the government after me?’ patter.

Milo arrives in techno geek heaven as he is shown around the N.U.R.V. campus, a hive of computer-obsessed teenagers working in Playschool like offices. There he meets one cute but damaged programmer (Rachael Leigh Cook), who takes an instant liking to him. Sure enough, all is not as it seems and the monotonous predictability of the plot is broken up only by giant plot holes and deadly sesame seeds (you’ll have to see it to find out). When Milo finds out that someone close to him is not who they claim, the ramifications of this are glossed over and some excellent dramatic opportunities are missed.

Robbins sleepwalks his way through his role as the boyishly villainous Winston; so one-dimensional it’s amazing he can stand up as he spouts cliché after cliché. The climax is so improbable as to make the audience laugh, even more than they did at the corny dialogue. The female roles are so underwritten as to be barely there, not helped by Forlani and Cook’s style of wide eyed, blank faced performances. Ryan Phillipe as a super brain doesn’t quite pull it off, but was probably not cast for his air of intelligence.

Antitrust has a good, contemporary premise, and it’s possible a good thriller could have been made out of it, but this is not it. A weak, derivative script, tired direction and uninspired performances make this one strictly for those brain dead nights when even television is too taxing.