Ryan Phillippe as Milo Hoffmann
Tim Robbins as Gary Winston
Rachael Leigh Cook as Lisa Calighan
Claire Forlani as Alice Poulson
Tygh Runyan as Larry Banks
Ned Bellamy as Phil Grimes
Douglas McFerran as Bob Shrot
Zahf Hajee as Desi

This thinly veiled shot at Microsoft and Bill Gates starts out good, but soon crashes due to stupid plot twists and bad dialogue.

Antitrust is basically a geek fantasy about the downfall of Bill Gates.

Milo Hoffman is a young genius computer programmer. A recent graduate, he’s trying to decide between joining his friends in a startup company or going to a much larger computer company. He is wooed by a Microsoft clone called N.U.R.V. which is run by a Bill Gates clone named Gary Winston. Winston desperately needs Milo’s help to get a new satellite network up and running by an upcoming deadline. Winston offers Milo a sweet deal and he accepts.

After a rather rosy start, Milo starts seeing things that make him suspicious. Winston keeps bringing him computer coding, yet does not explain where it comes from. At the same time, computer programmers keep dying in strange circumstances. When Milo’s programmer best friend is killed, he suspects that Gary Winston may be behind it. He begins to dig deeper into the company and discovers deception and criminal acts beyond his wildest imagination.

Antitrust is rated PG-13 for some violence and brief language

What Worked:
I didn’t care for this movie, but there were a few good things about it.

Tim Robbins was a rather good Bill Gates-like character. He was driven, intelligent, and a little bit out of touch with the real world. He made a believable computer guru. As he made pep talks to his computer drones, I was reminded of the big company slogans and speeches that I’ve heard so often. That made the setup as Milo first went to the company a bit more realistic. It was a real world first look at a major company. You’re dazzled by all the great things like the building, the various programs, and such. Later on you get a more realistic picture of the workplace. It was also a very realistic dot-com type setting. I’ve been to offices filled with computer geeks before and they had it nailed. There are toys and computers everywhere and no employee over 30. Kind of a surreal experience for me, at least.

The final and inevitable downfall of Gary Winston was kind of clever. No big surprises, but it was well executed. Other than that, this movie is unremarkable.

What Didn’t Work:
If the audience doesn’t buy into the ultimate message of a film, then there’s a problem. The anthem of this film is that knowledge should be free, therefore computer programming should be available for anyone to copy and use. I don’t necessarily think that’s true. If a company spends millions of dollars developing a program to sell, I don’t think that the coding for that program should be free for anyone to take and resell as they please under the banner of “free knowledge”. Some people may think that’s OK, but it didn’t go over well with me, so it hurt my enjoyment of the film. But it was bad in other ways.

I’m going to talk spoilers here, so run away if you don’t want to know them.

A major plot point in the film is that Milo is deathly allergic to sesame seeds. There’s a point in the film where he discovers that his girlfriend is working for Winston. One night when Milo comes home, she offers him a home cooked meal. Milo suspects she put sesame seeds in the food to kill him, and thus starts a rather ridiculous scramble by Milo to find out if the food has the deadly sesame seeds in it. It was so bad you’ll just have to see it for yourself. Pretty sad when your movie hero can be killed by a Whopper. We joked from that point on that Milo should watch out for the bad guys because they might be packing sesame seeds. With all the blatant Pepsi ads in the film, would it have been more appropriate to have him be deathly allergic to Coca-Cola? Now THERE’S a plot twist!

There’s another point in the film where Milo jumps on a N.U.R.V. daycare computer and accesses all of their top secret information and records of criminal activities. What kind of stupid computer system allows that type of info to be accessed from a daycare?? A toddler could come along, hit random keys, and pull up video of a murder! My 2-year-old has an incredible ability to hit random buttons on remotes, the TV, the computer, and the phone and cause all sorts of impossible things to happen. Maybe these computer geek kids could, too. To make things even more unbelievable, they dust for fingerprints on the daycare computer keyboard. You could never get a fingerprint off of anything in a daycare. You never know what kind of strange things are smeared on surfaces there.

The creators of the film were smart in one respect. They didn’t pretend to know a lot about computers. However, what little they did show was kind of goofy. The beginning credits are filled with tons of computer coding. Upon closer inspection, you see it’s only HTML coding. Did they just pull it off a random website? And as Winston and Milo peruse the detailed computer programming for the company, the routine is to walk up, peer over someone’s shoulder, stare at the screen for 2 seconds, point, and say, “This is great stuff! I like what you did here!” It’s dumbed down a little too much. If you’re going to market this film to computer geeks, at least throw something in they can respect.

Finally, at the very end of the film, Milo yells out a line something like, “This is the real world with real people, and when you kill them they really die!!!” It should have been a climactic moment, but we all just started laughing. It was such a bad piece of dialogue.

This film might be a renter on down the road, but don’t expect a masterpiece.