Film Review

With Microsoft under the watchful eye of the Department of Justice and on the verge of being split apart, I could imagine Chairman Bill Gates could use some cheering up.

Sorry, Bill. Looks like Hollywood is also going to take a gut-wrenching stab at your life in its “”tell-all”” movie, “”Antitrust.”” Although a better title would have been “”Bill Gates is a Flesh-Eating Monster.””

People may argue that this movie is not at all related to Microsoft or its founder. But there are, after all, references to Emperor Gates in the movie as a competitor to the film’s fictitious, world-encompassing corporation known as NURV (Never Underestimate Radical Vision).

NURV’s head honcho is the geeky Gary Winston (Tim Robbins), with bigger-than-your-windshield glasses, mousy hair and a timid posture. It’s obvious Winston was modeled after Gates.

Director Peter Howitt shows us the world of software production as a stereotypical society of dorks, loners and sociopaths. Programmers revel in orgasmic delight in fixing program bugs, sporting high-fives and rooting to “”show some kind of creativity”” that Winston demands of his soldiers. This describes the NURV campus as genius programmer Milo Hoffman (Ryan Phillippe) snuggles into his cushy new job with personal assistance from Winston himself.

Financial success, a beautiful girlfriend (Claire Forlani) and a Mercedes-Benz are all Milo could ask for before he begins to suspect NURV’s business and research tactics. Soon the film accelerates into conspiracy and murder, leaving us with little time to catch our breath. Phillippe performs admirably when he confronts nothing but paranoia and mistrust, which often builds into scenes of rapid tension and sneaking suspicion.

Though the film thrills and electrifies, it later crashes faster than Windows 2000 running more than four programs, as the action becomes repetitive and a bit too melodramatic.

The megalomaniac Winston becomes more tyrannical by the minute and his secrets are too far-fetched and his plans for world domination would make him more at home against James Bond rather than Milo the programmer.

Nonetheless, “”Antitrust”” is a fast-paced ride through the inside of Hollywood’s view of the company we all love to hate. If Gary Winston is supposed to be Bill Gates, then Gates is certainly the devil.