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ANTITRUST

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Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Ryan Phillippe, Rachel Leigh Cook, Claire Forlani, Tim Robbins
Director: Peter Howitt
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: MGM/UA
Features: See Review
Length: 108 Minutes
Release Date: May 15, 2001

“Bill Gates has a system just like this.”

“Bill Who?”

Film ***

If the so-called race known as “computer geeks” ever needed to rejoice about a single movie other than WarGames, AntiTrust is indeed that movie. In such a powerfully present computer age as the one we’re living in right now, it’s a wonder that it wasn’t released any sooner than it was. It can easily be considered a guilty pleasure of the highest form. The ads for the movie may have spilled the beans on every twist the movie has to offer, but even if you had not seen an ad, you’d be able to spot the bad guy right from scene one apparently. The movie has the intelligence level of a Scooby Doo episode, and at times even feels like one, but I still found myself willing to surrender to its cheese, because some of it remains intriguing, thanks in large part to some very good performances.

The movie centers on Milo Hoffman (Ryan Phillippe), who works out of his garage with his friends who are attempting to promote free software and computer information. One day, Milo receives a call from computer mogul Gary Winston, played by Tim Robbins looking horrifyingly close to Mr. Gates himself. Winston is impressed with Milo’s background, and wants the young lad to come work for him at his Seattle-based company called NURV, which stands for “Never Underestimate Radical Vision”. Milo, seeking some good pay, agrees to the visit against the request of his friends and soon becomes Winston personal knowledge assistant. He even is offered more money to work for a justice department agent, played by Richard “John Shaft” Roundtree, who is conducting an antitrust case against Winston, but goes to NURV anyway.

Winston’s primary reason for hiring Milo in such short notice is to receive help in getting the company’s new satellite, SYNAPSE, online by the slated starting date, which is in 42 days. Winston supplies Milo with daily codes to help in the development of SYNAPSE, though ignores to tell Milo where or who the codes came from. Young Milo is pleased with his new professional status at first, but soon becomes very suspicious of the maneuvering of NURV following the sudden murder of one of his colleagues from back home. What’s worse is that the victim had in his possession numerous codes, and it was rumored that he was on the brink of something big.

From that point on, you can pretty much detect the route that AntiTrust is taking. Reading this, you are probably scratching your head wondering why I am giving it a three star average. I really got a kick out of exploring the underworld of corporate technology, and I especially enjoyed Tim Robbins’ over-the-top portrayal of what could easily be considered as Bill Gates with questionable tactics. I thought Ryan Phillippe provided a decent protagonist, though it doesn’t come close to the knockout job he gave in The Way of the Gun. There are some sharply constructed scenes of tension, such as one where Milo tries to break into a NURV computer, in what appears to be a children’s facility, to get some brutal information while eluding security. It’s a sequence I’m sure even De Palma would appreciate. And I especially got a kick out of the films climax, in which the villains get their comeuppance in a very fresh way in which, I must confess, I really wasn’t expecting following the rest of the movie.

AntiTrust has its flaws but it still manages to hold interest for the entire presentation. Don’t be expecting the smartest of all movies, but if you are into neat suspense thrillers with plentiful tension and biting commentary on the dangers of the computer industry, put your trust in AntiTrust.

Video ***1/2

MGM delivers a terrific and solid video transfer for AntiTrust. Anamorphically enhanced, the video is nicely sharp and clear, with truly vibrant colors to support it. A pure-quality presentation that only suffers a few soft spots near the end of the movie, but other than that, a superb job.

Audio ****

MGM offers a grand use of audio for AntiTrust, which blends perfectly with the disc’s very good video presentation. Being a movie mostly involving contemporary technology, the audio job on this disc could be considered a prime example of the same. The 5.1 Dolby Digital presentation delivers on all marks, with sound, musical score, and other distinct noises as well. A wonderful job that ranks among the studio’s best sounding releases.

Features ****

Here’s where the disc especially soars. MGM doesn’t issue many “Special Editions” for their releases, but AntiTrust gets that rare use. For starters, there’s an informative behind-the-scenes documentary titled “AntiTrust: Cracking the Code”. There’s also a commentary by director Peter Howitt and editor Zach Staenberg, deleted scenes with optional director commentary, an alternate opening and closing sequence with optional director commentary, a trailer, and a music video for Everclear’s song “When it All Goes Wrong”. The menus on the disc are also a treat, too, as it appears in the form of a 3-dimensional computer screen.

Summary:

Chances are you missed it in theaters, so it goes without saying that AntiTrust really deserves a look, especially in this quality looking and extremely loaded DVD. And we sincerely apologize if by chance any Bill Gates disciples are offended by the movie.