Antitrust: Special Edition
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted May 9, 2001
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The Movie:

"Antitrust" isn't the film that the marketing campaign would have had viewers believe in terms of quality - the film was dumped in the middle of January, a time that more often than not signals a failure. While not a fantastic picture, the only area where the picture is sometimes lacking is the screenplay. I enjoyed the performances, and technically, the film looks very good.

Ryan Phillipe stars as Milo, a talented computer programmer, who, as the film begins, finds himself requested to appear at the offices of Gary Winston (Tim Robbins attempting to channel Bill Gates). He needs Milo and a group of other young, smart folks like him to help him to complete the Synapse global communications system, a system that will link every communications device on the planet. Although things seem fine at first, as with all thrillers like this one, hints of an ugly undercurrent begin to surface. Eventually, Milo's friend Teddy is killed, and evidence points to the company - that they're trying to knock out any competition.

"Antitrust" is successful not because it really brings a great deal of originality to the table for the genre, but because it does well enough with the usual elements of the genre to make the picture tense and often exciting. There's a good sense once the film really gets going that we don't know who Milo should or can trust, and twists along the way to change the audience's perceptions. Some of the plot points become rather ludicrious, but the film often straightens itself out again and continues on its way. There's a lot of the usual - the villians coming down a hallway to get the hero, but the film is well-edited by Zach Staenberg("The Matrix") and makes the ordinary work.

Performances are generally very good. Phillipe is one of the better young actors of the next generation and this remains one of his better efforts. I also liked Robbins, who can go from child-like joy at seeing some new code written out to the darker side, which involves yelling at the employees. Also decent is Claire Forlani as Alice, Milo's girlfriend. The one actress who doesn't get much to do is Rachel Leigh Cook, as Lisa, a fellow programmer. I've never found myself impressed with a performance from Cook - especially after "Josie and the Pussycats", which was quite bad - but I suppose I can credit this instance to having not much of a character to go on.

Again, "Antitrust" isn't a fantastic thriller, but it's an enjoyable and sometimes entertaining one that deserves better than the quick January release that it received.


VIDEO: MGM presents "Antitrust" in the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and it is anamorphic. It's not a poor or even mediocre presentation - nor is it one that anyone will likely find stunning or remarkable. Sharpness generally appeared pleasing; although I detected a slight amount of softness to some of the scenes, the majority of the film was visibly well-defined and crisp.

There are some additional problems along the way to face. Slight edge enhancement is noticed in a few areas and becomes a bit irritating. A couple of light traces of pixelation also appear, but there really isn't anything in the way of print flaws, as the picture remains free of speckles and marks throughout.

Colors look terrific throughout the movie, from the beautiful outdoor scenery to the bright colors that are located throughout the computer labs, as these operations always seem to have that playful, light feel - and Catherine Hardwicke's production design really shows that throughout the film. Anyways, "Antitrust" looks fine here - MGM's effort looks above-average, but several small problems keep it from reaching a higher level.

SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Although "Antitrust" doesn't have a great deal of large action sequences, the film does still put audio to effective use in adding to the thrills. Although many scenes do only employ Don Davis's score and dialogue, there are some sequences that do put surrounds to enjoyable use, including some of those breeze-ish "reveal" sounds that are often used in thrillers and other subtle and not-so-subtle effects. Dialogue was mostly natural, including many interior scenes where it sounded convincing that the characters were talking in that space.

MENUS:: MGM provides a wonderful animated background for the main menu, composed of different screens that show scenes from the movie. Sub-menus are not animated, but provide a nice tech-themed background, along with some HTML style.


Commentary: This is a commentary from director Peter Howitt and editor Zach Staenberg. The two are able to talk a great deal about how the film was done, as well as various production stories about working with the actors and making the look and feel of the film. Filling in in-between the more technical comments are chat about the story itself as the two analyze what's going on currently in the picture. The analysis of the story isn't as interesting as hearing about how the film was made, but the two do it well enough that they were able to carry my interest throughout the track.

Cracking The Code: I'm always suprised when I see that some of these documentaries are exclusive to the DVD edition of the title, and end up spending most of its time talking about the story. That happens again here, as the majority of the 20 minute running time is spent talking about the story. There is some decent information to be had from the behind-the-scenes interviews and footage, but a lot of the usual elements of these documentaries exist again here (lots of clips seem to fill out the running time, etc.)

Deleted Scenes: Six deleted scenes plus an alternate opening/ending are offered with or w/o director's commentary. The scenes aren't bad and are well-acted, but generally don't serve the story too well.

Also: Trailer (1.85:1/2.0), Everclear Music Video ("When It All Goes Wrong").

Final Thoughts: "Antitrust" isn't anything groundbreaking, but I found it to be suprisingly entertaining aside from some problems along the way. MGM's disc provides fine audio/video and some solid extra features. Fans of thrillers might want to check the film out as a rental, although those who are already fans will likely be satisfied with the DVD.

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