Antitrust portrays young idealistic programmers and a large corporation (NURV) that offers significant money, a low-keyed working environment, and creative opportunities for those talented programmers willing to work for them. The charismatic CEO of NURV (Robbins) seems to be good natured, but recent employee and protagonist Milo Hoffman (Phillippe) begins to unravel the terrible hidden truth of NURV's operation.
Starring Ryan Phillippe, Tim Robbins, Rachael Leigh Cook, and Claire Forlani, Antitrust opened in the United States on January 12, 2001, and despite hope for the film and its pro-open-source message, it was generally panned by reviewers and critics.
Working with friends at their new software development company dedicated to preserving creative integrity and information exchange, Milo Hoffman (Phillippe) is approached by CEO Gary Winston (Robbins) of NURV (Never Underestimate Radical Vision) for a programming position few would refuse—a fat paycheck, an almost-unrestrained working environment, and extensive creative control over his work.
The environment of NURV seems as advertised: a family-oriented, friendly company that places great value on individual creativity. NERF footballs fly around the office, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the CEO personally shows Milo to his workstation and introduces him to his co-workers.
Despite the flagship product ("Synapse", a worldwide media distribution network) being well on schedule, Hoffman begins to develop suspicions about the motives and methods of NURV. He eventually discovers that their employees are extensively monitored and that much of their source code is stolen from programmers (to include Hoffman's former startup associates) who have been contractually killed by the company. Hoffman begins a one-man investigation into NURV's secrets, and eventually enlists the aid of fellow NURV employee Lisa Calighan (Cook).
Hoffman, gathering his computer hobbyist friends and an FBI mole inside NURV, manages to hijack the Synapse network, publicly uploading the source code, accompanied by a video of his own making—one that reveals the identity of the murdered programmers and the force behind their death.
Roger Ebert found Gary Winston to be a thinly disguised pastiche of Bill Gates; so much that he was "surprised [the writers] didn't protect against libel by having the villain wear a name tag saying, 'Hi! I'm not Bill!'" Similarly, Ebert felt NURV "seems a whole lot like Microsoft." Ebert was in good company with his observations, parallels between the fictional and real-world software giants were also drawn by Lisa Bowman of ZDNet UK, James Berardinelli of ReelViews, Rita Kempley of the The Washington Post, and many others.
- Ryan Phillippe as Milo Hoffman.
- Rachael Leigh Cook as Lisa Calighan.
- Claire Forlani as Alice Poulson.
- Tim Robbins as Gary Winston.
- Douglas McFerran as Bob Shrot.
- Richard Roundtree as Lyle Barton.
- Tygh Runyan as Larry Banks.
- Yee Jee Tso as Teddy Chin.
- Nate Dushku as Brian Bissel.
- Ned Bellamy as Phil Grimes.
- Tyler Labine as Redmond Schmeichel.
- Scott Bellis as Randy Sheringham.
- David Lovgren as Danny Solskjær.
- Zahf Paroo as Desi.
- Jonathon Young as Stinky.
Antitrust's pro-open source story excited industry leaders and professionals with the prospects of expanding the public's awareness and knowledge level of the availability of open-source software. The film heavily features Linux and its community, using screenshots of the Gnome desktop, consulting Linux professionals, as well as cameos by Miguel de Icaza and Scott McNealy (the latter being cut from the film, appearing only in the trailer). Jon Hall, executive director of Linux International and consultant on the film said "[Antitrust] is a way of bringing the concept of open source and the fact that there is an alternative to the general public, who often don't even know that there is one."
Despite the film's message about open source computing, MGM didn't follow-through with their marketing: the official website for Antitrust featured some videotaped interviews which were only available in Apple's proprietary QuickTime formatting.
Review aggregate websites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic reported generally poor reception: based on 102 reviews, only 25% of critics gave the film positive write-ups, with a calculated metascore of 31 (out of 100). Professional critic Roger Ebert only gave the film two stars (out of four). Linux.com appreciated the film's open-source message but felt the film overall was lackluster, saying "Template:'AntiTrustTemplate:' is probably worth a $7.50 ticket on a night when you've got nothing else planned."
Antitrust was released as a "Special Edition" DVD on May 15, 2001. and on VHS on December 26, 2001. The DVD features audio commentary by the director and editor, an exclusive documentary, deleted scenes and alternative opening and closing sequences with director's commentary, the music video for "When It All Goes Wrong Again" by Everclear, and the original theatrical trailer; the DVD was re-released August 1, 2006.
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