Antitrust [2001]

Director: Peter Howitt
Stars: Ryan Phillippe, Tim Robbins, Rachael Leigh Cook, Claire Forlani, Douglas McFerran
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 109 minutes

The term suspension of disbelief was invented for the idea that Ryan Phillippe could be a computer genius. As Milo, a slacker brainiac recruited by smilingly ominous software giant Gary Winston (Tim Robbins) to help build a global communications system, Phillippe still looks like a million bucks. He is also still doing the clenched, pouty grown-up voice that he always uses to show that he means business in this acting stuff (he's nothing if not earnest), and a pair of designer glasses completes the transformation. He's well matched in Antitrust by Claire Forlani, who, in turn, spends time pursing her lips and squinting her dewy eyes as Milo's troubled girlfriend, an artist who proves to be a liability when Milo discovers that Winston is killing off clever competitors like a dot-com f├╝hrer. Robbins, looking like David Letterman, seems willing to either take his role dead seriously or goof around a bit, but director Peter Howitt doesn't know how to play any of it (the actor was better used as a grinning madman in another flawed paranoid thriller, the underseen Arlington Road). Without any underlying menace or enough satirical bite to keep it interesting, the whole thing slips by passively in a mindless matinee kind of way until the over-the-top finale. Production designer Catherine Hardwicke has had some big, glossy fun creating Winston's campus and ornate private kingdom, and there's the cheapest of kicks in seeing Robbins's Bill Gates taken down publicly, but the film is definitely junior league. --Steve Wiecking

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