Antitrust

on January 12, 2001 by Tim Cogshell
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Ryan Phillippe just can't seem to catch a break. From his first significant leading role in the mushy "Studio 54" through the recently misfired "The Way of the Gun," the young actor has picked nothing but losers. The streak continues. "Antitrust" is not only a bad movie, it's just plain insulting. The film lifts from the headlines the most significant story in the high-tech community: Bill Gates and his Microsoft Software firm under siege from all sides. From proponents of open source (tech talk for free) code to the Justice Department itself, Gates has been characterized as every thing from a megalomaniac to the antichrist. In the film, he is none too subtly represented by Gary Winston (Tim Robbins) and his NURV (Never Underestimate Radical Vision) corporation. Robbins even goes so far as to sport a bad '70s haircut and goofy glasses to make the point. Phillippe plays a young programming genius, Milo, who forgoes a start-up company with best friend Teddy Chin (Yee Jee Tso), instead joining the ranks of NURV after a rousing speech by Winston about the philanthropical opportunities afforded a winner in the free market. Winston has set a deadline for the delivery of a new world communications network (like Gates once did)--a deadline he can't make without Milo's help and, apparently, some dastardly deeds as well. Suddenly several of the nation's top programmers are dying in wild accidents and random attacks, their work mysteriously finding its way to Winston. When this fate befalls Milo's ex-buddy Chin, he starts to get suspicious. Aside from the fact that "Antitrust" practically slanders Bill Gates for much of its 120 minutes, it's chock full of juvenile distortions of the real issues being debated about the nature of the software industry. The dialogue is idiotic and the plot-twists nitwitted. Claire Forlani is too old to play the role she's been assigned--Milo's girlfriend--and Rachael Leigh Cook's doll-eyed vulnerable sincerity has already become grating. Starring Ryan Phillippe, Rachael Leigh Cook, Clarie Forlani, Yee Jee Tso and Tim Robbins. Directed by Peter Howitt. Written by Howard Franklin. Produced by Nick Wechsler, Keith Addis and David Nicksay. An MGM Release. Thriller. Rated PG-13 for some violence and brief language. Running time: 120 min
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