Movie Review

AntiTrust

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and brief language

Reviewed by: Charity Bishop
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
2 hrs.
Year of Release:
2000
USA Release:
January 12, 2001
Relevant Issues
Ryan Phillippe and Rachael Leigh Cook in “Antitrust”
Featuring: Ryan Phillippe, Claire Forlani, Rachael Leigh Cook, Tim Robbins, Richard Roundtree
Director: Peter Howitt
Producer: David Hoberman, Ashok Amritraj, C.O. Erickson, Julia Chasman, David Nicksay, Keith Addis, Nick Wechsler
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

If you can overlook the obvious nitpicking on Bill Gates and Microsoft, “AntiTrust” is actually an enjoyable teen thriller. Milo Hoffman (Ryan Phillippe, “Cruel Intentions”) is a computer programmer fresh out of college. His dream is to work for a high-stakes company… which he finds in a hot Portland-based firm under the iron hand of one of the most brilliant men in the industry, Gary Winston (Tim Robbins). Packing up and moving both himself and his live-in-girlfriend (Claire Forlani, “Meet Joe Black”), Milo has everything he’s ever dreamed of… a personal workspace, access to intense programming, and job security.

Gary Winston’s company has intentions to have the first global networking system that can bypass any other programming, and literally take over the industry. Without Milo’s genius, it’s impossible to meet his deadline. But Milo’s dream job begins to turn nightmarish when he discovers that there is more to the business than he first believed. Handed programming tips whenever he hits a loop, he finds it difficult to understand how Gary can get his hands on so many key codes. And when his boss shows a violent temper when further provoked toward the truth, it’s merely the first hint of what lies ahead.

A twisting and suspenseful teen thriller is “AntiTrust”. It plays with your mind in the fashion of “The Net” and has the heart-pounding reality of “Frequency.” The players are well set up from the first credits… the powerful Gary, the wannabe Milo, his less-than-secure girlfriend, and then the beautiful computer programmer (Rachel Leigh Cook, “Josie and the Pussycats”) with a horrific past. Unfortunately, it also embraces an unmarried couple’s obvious sexual relationship (implied through scenes in which we find Milo sleeping next to Alice) and profane language, which includes one use a sexual expletive, several uses each of “Jesus,” “God,” and “Christ.”

The violence is apparent but not overly graphic; we see a murder, first implied and then fully on a blurry computer screen in which a programmer is beat with a baseball bat. Alice is glimpsed in her bra and often wears cleavage-revealing outfits. There are some weird cartoon almost-porno pictures in the background at a party. The characters drink champagne several times, and there is a mention of a child being molested at a young age.

Looking past the content (which isn’t that apparent, save for the profanity), the film is a very well-thought-out and meticulously-acted one that keeps you guessing. The trailer provokes, “Trust is not an option,” and comes true during the course of the film as Milo tries to unravel who his friends really are. Mistaken identities, traitors, manipulation and nail-biting sequences of computer wizardry make for an action-packed thrill ride that teen audiences will adore, if they have any interest in the Internet.

A side note would be that the original production would have been more offensive than what was actually released to theaters. The first draft included a sexual relationship between Milo and his beautiful computer friend Lisa, which was cut because it seemed rushed. Amen. It could have been better, but for now the film does a good job of standing on its own two feet. Generally I avoid offensive films like the plague, but this one made it onto my television and I enjoyed it for what it was.

I would suggest that parents screen it before allowing teens to view it, but overall it’s less offensive than most of the thrillers out there, and an excellent alternative to some of Hollywood’s more recent productions.


Viewer Comments
As a programmer myself, Antitrust was one of those movies that instantly made it on my “must-see” list, regardless of any reviews which suggested otherwise. As such, I am a bit biased to be alert to the more technical aspects of the film. The movie was a definitely enjoyable film. It is a film that I would rank as an easy-viewing film, which doesn’t require much insight or thought into figuring everything out. The script progresses at a relatively brisk pace after about halfway in, constantly creating a level of suspense. However, like “Mission: Impossible 2”, it overplays the “who do you trust” motif. In “MI:2”, it was ruled by plastic masks, while this one plays on the theme of being “on the payroll.” As for the movie itself, it plays very much on propaganda. The scriptwriters seemed intent on vilifying Microsoft (in the interest of full discloser, I have worked closely with Microsoft in the past, and develop for Microsoft products), which was a bit aggravating at points. The company in question (“NURV”), has many allusions to Microsoft drawn (the campus, the fact that they write operating systems for computers, being investigated by the DoJ, etc), and is constantly portrayed as some form of “Ultimate EVIL.” However, on the positive side (and the other hand), it is encouraging to see the “Open Source” movement gain momentum. Of course, now for the moral discussion. The language was objectionable, but unfortunately nothing you wouldn’t hear in a public school (at one point, the f word is used, which I was under the impression gains a movie an R rating, which it did not in this case). The implication is that two of the main characters have been having premarital sex. Violence is somewhat limited as it’s PG-13. However, one character is killed via an attack by a baseball bat, which may cause some people to squeam as its played out. Overall, I found this movie highly enjoyable though, due to my computer geek bias. This does have appeal for the teen set (and is hoping to draw in the less-than-computer geeks by having “teen idols” Ryan Phillippe and Rachel Leigh Cook). For the younger crowd who may be attracted to this movie, it offers a good discussion about a real-life hero who took on someone much bigger and stronger then him and won (hint: David and Goliath), but the language may serve as a deterrent. This movie though, is clearly aimed at teenagers, so the older and younger crowds may want to avoid it because of its simplicity in plot and dialogue.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Ryan S, age 17
I thought this movie had a good plot and good acting. There were a few immoral parts of the movie but nothing that would stop me from watching it. I give it two thumbs up!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Andrew Planter, age 20
Sexual activity outside of marriage is implied strongly in a dream. There is also profanity, alchohol, and a view of a man beaten to death.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—K.E, age 13
Antitrust was an OK movie, but its language an adult content was offensive. I think this is not a movie for Christian teenagers.
My Ratings: [Somewhat Offensive / 2½]
—Anne, age 14
Movie Critics
…Despite a mostly moral worldview, this movie contains foul language, a socialist anti-business perspective and other questionable material…
—Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…Aside from the poor plot, vulgar language and wrong sexual messages make ANTITRUST quite objectionable…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…One F-word… several religious vulgarities…
—Kids-in-Mind
…declares in its most solemn moment of revelation that human knowledge belongs to the world. That’s so glib, noble and nonsensical you don’t know whether to say “duh!” or demand the recipe for Coca-Cola…
—Ed Blank, Tribue-Review of Western Pennsylvania