It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
They might have been able to make a nice little thriller out of "Antitrust" if they'd kept one eye on the Goofy Meter. Just when the movie is cooking, the needle tilts over into Too Goofy, which breaks the spell. What are we to make of a brainy nerd hero who fears his girlfriend is trying to kill him by adding sesame seeds to the Chinese food, and administers a quick allergy test at a romantic dinner by scratching himself with a fork and rubbing on some of the brown sauce? Too goofy.
The movie uses a thinly disguised fictional version of Bill Gates as his hero--so thinly, I'm surprised they didn't protect against libel by having the villain wear a name tag saying, "Hi! I'm not Bill!" This billionaire software mogul, named Gary Winston, is played by Tim Robbins as a man of charm, power and paranoia. "Anybody working in a garage can put us out of business," he frets, and he's right. Cut to a garage occupied by Milo Hoffman (Ryan Phillippe) and his best buddy Teddy Chin (Yee Jee Tso), who are on the edge of a revolutionary communications breakthrough.
Winston's company, which seems a whole lot like Microsoft, is working toward the same goal. In fact, Winston claims his new Synapse global communications system will, and I quote, "link every communications device on the planet." Too goofy. In order to discourage his competitors, Winston has announced a release date for his new software while it is still being written (details like this are why the company seems a whole lot like Microsoft).
He needs a software breakthrough, and he thinks Milo and Teddy can provide it. He invites them up for a tour of his company's campus in the Pacific Northwest. Teddy declines: He hates the megacorp and believes code should be freely distributed. Milo accepts, and before he leaves, is visited by an agent from the (pre-Bush) Justice Department (Richard Roundtree), who is preparing an antitrust case against Winston. "If you see something up there that hits you the wrong way, do the right thing," the agent says, offering Milo--who stands on the brink of untold millions--a salary much higher than you can earn at McDonald's.