Eye For Film >> Movies >> Antitrust (2000) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
The internet revolution has never been easy for filmmakers. There's nothing cinematic about nerdy guys doing things you don't understand on computer screens. Also, the language goes beyond Trekkiespeak. What's "digital convergence", for heaven's sake?
Antitrust is all about digital convergence. So listen up.
Gary Winston is head of N.U.R.V, a software corporation in the Microsoft mould. The nerds look up to him because he's smart and look down on him because he's a capitalist pig. When you're young in Webland, you're an innovator, or a hacker. You don't want to be rich, you want to be ahead.
Winston's going for digital convergence, which links telephone, television, computers and radio from one central feed. It will, he assures the ignorant public, change the face of history and make him the richest man since Cresus.
He's having problems to meet the deadline and there's a kid out there, called Milo, whose a techie genius, working from a garage with his grungy pals. They believe in open source, which translates as "Human knowledge belongs to the world".
Winston asks Milo to join the team, invites him over, shows him the informal work space, turns on the charm.
"I look at you and see something I haven't seen in 20 years," he says.
"I see me."
Milo falls for it. Much to the dismay of his buddies, he takes the money and the job. He tells his girlfriend (Claire Forlani) that the challenge to "go beyond potential" is too difficult to resist.
Once at N.U.R.V, he realises that things are neither hunky, nor dory. The emphasis on security, for example, seems way over the top. Is something going on he doesn't know about?
What begins as a science project ends as a paranoid thriller. The English actor, Peter Howitt, who wrote and directed Sliding Doors, with Gwyneth Paltrow, does an excellent job. The pace is tight, the performances focused. Ryan Phillippe captures the passive innocence of Milo beautifully and hints at a vibrant intelligence. Tim Robbins, as Winston, does more than play with his role. He is frighteningly convincing.
The script by Howard Franklin takes credulity to the limit. Howitt's clever directing and Phillippe's sympathetic acting masks the more extreme elements of the plot. In the end, however, as bodies pile up, it stops making sense.Reviewed on: 02 May 2001