|Antitrust is a classic case of a made for TV movie being thrust into the unwelcome world of feature films. The story, while intriguing for around ten minutes, turns into a mild expose on the evils of a big name computer magnate. The entire film begs to be shown on a Monday night on NBC; the parallels to real life computer bigwigs are too obvious. But the resemblance to a made for television movie doesn't stop there.|
This film also sports a bad script, weak characters, and a lack of excitement, which, considering this is a thriller, are strong marks against this film. It is that lack of suspense that prevents the film from becoming an engaging experience. The stakes are never high enough and the performances seem almost muted. There is an intensity missing from the film that may stem from the weak story. The concept is there, but it doesn't play out with a lot of intelligence. There are the standard computer geek in-jokes littering much of the film, which may score points with computer programmers, but will skip by the average viewer unnoticed.
Many times there are shots of the computer monitor, showing the audience some sort of programming babble on the screen. While programmers might know immediately what the characters and symbols mean, the average viewer will not. And the fact that the actors simply nod to one another and say witty things like "wow, that's great" and "see that there? that's great," means the audience never really knows what's going on with the programs.
While it might not be paramount for viewers to know exactly what all that programming means, it would have benefited the movie if some of it had been explained. For example, there could have been a character that wasn't a computer programmer to whom Ryan Phillipe could have spouted information. This exposition could have been easily disguised in an argument or some engaging dialogue.
In any case, the film seems to assume that its audience knows exactly what the characters are talking about, and so no explanations seem needed. It also would have made those characters more convincing had they spoken about or shown what they were capable of, programming-wise. Ryan Phillipe's character is supposed to be a genius programmer, but comes off more as a bad actor trying to play the part of a smart computer programmer. Like the miss-cast Elizabeth Shue in The Saint, Phillipe doesn't embody his role well; he appears only to have memorized his lines for the film.
And this applies to some of the other actors in the film as well. Rachel Leigh Cook and Claire Forlani are mired by bad dialogue and a weak script in characters which really don't make that much of a dent in the story. Though it is uncertain whether either of these actresses would have been more successful if given more thoughtful dialogue given their less-than-stellar careers thus far. But the most disappointing performance probably comes from Tim Robbins. Robbins has starred in more than one incredible film, but didn't do himself any favors by taking a role in Antitrust. The only compliment to his performance is that he very much resembles Bill Gates.
Even though it's clear in the movie that Robbins is not portraying Gates, he nonetheless looks a whole lot like the guy. But his performance, like the others in this film, doesn't come up to scratch. The actors just can't overcome what is essentially a bad script. It would perform better as a docu-drama about Bill Gates or a real life story on Biography. The plot is quite predictable and that makes this film somewhat of a paradox considering that the film is supposed to be about a bunch of smart people. Geniuses, in fact. But this picture bears no resemblance to anything intelligent on the screen.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.