It was only a matter of time before modern day computer whiz kids became action heroes, and Ryan Phillippe assumes the hero role in Antitrust, a movie that does not try to hide its similarities to the current Justice Department v. Microsoft trial.
On the surface, Antitrust is just trying to state its opinion as to whether what Bill Gates is doing is legal or not, but the movie really doesn't have very much deeper meaning. It is, specifically, a psychological thriller based around a deadly conspiracy.
It is a decent one, too. I will not say that Antitrust is anywhere near the level of great thrillers, but it does make an effort and the result is quite entertaining. Phillippe is convincing enough as the genius who unmasks the conspiracy, and there are enough little twists and turns to keep everything moving. However, Antitrust still is a pretty simple conspiracy film made for the MTV Generation, thinking that the younger audience it is aiming at can possibly handle serious content in a serious movie. What I mean by that is that Antitrust takes itself seriously but is very basic in its plot and plot twists. As already mentioned, the movie is entertaining enough, but there is a lot of wasted potential sitting around.
In terms of acting, there are decent performances by all the leads. Phillippe is a little more daring and little more successful in finding films that branch away from the standard romance comedy, which Freddie Prinze, Jr. sticks to, but I don't think he takes Antitrust as seriously as he did with, say, 54. In 54 he showed that he could really act, and in Antitrust he shows that he can work with a script, but isn't willing to push the boundaries of that script.
Claire Forlani, who I personally like, turns in a performance as good as she can give considering the shallow character she plays, and Rachel Leigh Cook offers a so-so act. Tim Robbins, the bad guy of the film, does a much better job than all of the other actors put together, but isn't nearly as creepy or convincing as he was in Arlington Road, in which he also played a bad guy.
Antitrust, for the most part, is pretty believable. It does not rely on action scenes that could not possibly happen due to the fact that the hero is a computer nerd, and the ending, though maybe a little non-climactic for a lot of people's tastes, is pretty realistic. There are a few dumb moments here and there, and some of the twists that happen seem weak and unsupported, but I was still captivated by the story.
Antitrust could have been better, but with what is given, there are a lot of ways this movie could have been a lot worse.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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