Volume 94, Issue 64
Wednesday, January 17, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Antitrust fails with distracting labels
Gazette File Photo
YOU CAN ANTITRUST ME, BABY. THAT'S JUST A COLD SORE. Claire Forlani and Ryan Phillipe prepare to share germs in Antitrust.
Starring: Ryan Phillipe, Tim Robbins, Claire Forlani, Rachel Leigh Cook
Directed By: Peter Howitt
By Ben Freedman
As we are ushered into the brave new world of the Internet, we will have the opportunity to experience former executive editor of Wired magazine Kevin Kelly's shared vision of "wiring human and artificial minds into one planetary soul."
This message, paired with a decidedly anti-corporate nuance, is the central theme of the latest MGM blockbuster, Antitrust. Unfortunately, ideas that would have been excellent fodder for a low budget "techie" film reek of irony when the main character is played by teen-dream Ryan Phillipe. The film maintains a certain aesthetic appeal, but also a predictable plot, mediocre acting and a quota of one-liners, which qualifies this movie for a place next to Hackers when it dies.
The brilliant, idealistic Milo (Ryan Phillipe) and his friend Teddy graduate from Stanford at the top of their class, ready to pursue their dream of providing free computer knowledge to the people through their own startup company. Milo, however, is recruited by his professional hero, Gary Winston (Tim Robbins), to join the multi-billion dollar computer company NURV and betray his 21st Century Marxist views.
Milo is introduced to the NURV team, which is dominated by young hipsters (complete with fashionable outfits, hairdos and sunglasses). As it turns out, the corporation is not as pure as it initially seems. Winston, once Milo's role model, becomes the antagonist when the audience discovers that he is running a nearly absolute dictatorship over America. Milo is forced up against the giant in the name of freedom and democracy.
Antitrust forces the audience to ask some important questions, like "Why didn't I buy those Pringles and Pepsi at the overpriced vendors on the way in?" and "Why aren't I as good-looking as all of these computer geeks?" This quasi-anti-corporate piece is plagued by product placement. As well, almost every character (or "product-pusher"), except for Teddy, just happens to be caucasian and gorgeous, including Phillipe's co-stars, Claire Forlani and Rachel Leigh Cook.
That said, Robbins is a wonderful actor and plays the role of the evil nemesis brilliantly. He changes the tone of the film seamlessly as he morphs from the charismatic leader into the personification of evil. His character is also given a number of catchy one-liners. The difference between Robbins and the rest of the cast is that he is capable of performing them so that they don't come off as contrived and fake.
Apart from the boiled-down computer talk, the moments of interest provided by this average script are short and passing. Sequences that are supposed to be suspenseful, aren't. Although it is engaging to discover the level of control this company has and the Machiavellian tactics used to stay on top, the implications really aren't discussed.
Antitrust is not a success. It only casually exploits the general distrust of technology that society presently experiences. It's mildly entertaining, but so are most television commercials. The commercials, though, don't cost $12 to watch.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000