dir Peter Howitt
scr Howard Franklin
with Ryan Phillippe, Tim Robbins, Claire Forlani, Rachael Leigh Cook, Richard Roundtree, Douglas McFerran, Tyler Labine, Ned Bellamy, Yee Jee Tso, Tygh Runyan, Scott Bellis, David Lovgren
release US 12.Jan.01; UK 20.Apr.01
MGM 01/US 2h00 2 out of 5 stars
An utterly routine thriller with delusions of relevance, Antitrust barely clings to our attention as it wends its way to a predictable finale. There's really no excuse for this feeble script, as it tackles an intriguing premise and then throws away everything that might possibly have held our interest. Milo (Phillippe) is a computer nerd with promise, on the verge of cracking the code for the Next Big Thing: convergence of all communications technology. So it's no surprise that he's scooped up by Gary Winston (Robbins in Bill Gates mode), CEO of the software megacompany Nurv. Milo's best friend (Tso) is disgusted that he has sold out to big business, but his arty girlfriend (Forlani) happily tags along to enjoy the good life. Then just as things are going well, a murder (!) alerts Milo to nefarious goings on at Nurv. Wondering whom he can trust, he turns to a cute colleague (Cook) and plots to expose Nurv's criminal underpinnings.

Yeah right. While the subject matter lends itself to an examination of privacy issues, technological advancement, capitalism gone mad, the conflict between technology and humanity and even some nice romantic twists, none of this is explored in the pedestrian script. In fact, besides the basic research involved, the writer seems to understand very little about computers, because nothing is remotely believable on even the most basic level ... not because the technology doesn't exist, but because it's so badly used in the story. As usual, Phillippe, Robbins, Forlani and Cook are watchable, but their characters are so simplistic that the rare glimpses of real personality seem like they come from another film altogether. Howitt (Sliding Doors) at least directs with a sense of style and pacing, although he really should read the script before he makes his next film.
themes, language, violence cert 12 20.Feb.01

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall