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Don't Ask - Just Watch

Sometimes, a movie that revolves around one certain theme or lifestyle can be very awkward. Quite often, such movies fail at the theaters because they can be downright boring if you're not familiar with the jargon and customs of that specific lifestyle. The 2000 box office failure but video-store success "Boiler Room" is a prime example of that type of movie.

However, "AntiTrust," the latest release from MGM, does not fall into that trap at all. Yes, the movie revolves around a software programmer and his tyrannical, monopolizing billionaire boss. But director Peter Howitt and screenwriter Howard Franklin ("The Man Who Knew Too Little") manage to avoid the kind of computer drivel that makes even Harvard professors scratch their heads, and certainly gives the average male a couple extra hours of sleep. Sure there are a lot of lines about computers and programming specifics, but Franklin crafts the script and plot so that you don't ask, you just watch.

Ryan Phillippe ("Cruel Intentions," "The Way of the Gun") plays Milo Hoffman, a computer programmer genius who is torn between a low-paying but honorable future or a spot in NURV, a top software company under investigation by the Department of Justice--but the spot can also make Hoffman a billionaire eventually. Hoffman takes the job, and NURV CEO Gary Winston (played by Oscar nominee Tim Robbins of "The Shawshank Redemption" fame) immediately takes Hoffman under his wing and puts him to work on revolutionary communications software.

However, Winston's quirky behavior and split-second rages of anger lead Hoffman to wonder what exactly is going on behind the scenes of the production of the new software, and what he finds is a vicious system used to negate potential competitors and remain at the top of the game. Hoffman then enters a maze of friends and enemies, and becomes confused, along with the rest of us, about who he can and can't trust. It's all part of a very entertaining plot that contains enough twists and turns to keep it interesting, but also possesses enough continuity so that viewers don't leave the theater wondering what the hell just happened.

The acting was so-so--after Phillippe. Phillippe has always played very different roles from one flick to the next, and the addition of the common-sense equipped but genius Hoffman should go even further to establish him as one of the major players in Hollywood in the first decade of this new millennium. Robbins, as usual, is not outstanding but completely believable, and relative newcomers such as Claire Forlani ("Meet Joe Black") and Rachel Leigh Cook ("She's All That") also do fairly well. The original Shaft himself, Richard Roundtree, even makes an appearance. But perhaps the

Ryan Phillippe and Rachel Leigh Cook star in MGM's thriller

most important performance is the Hollywood debut (and the old McDonald's commercials don't count) of the sesame seed.

All in all, "AntiTrust" is a cleverly built movie with a decent plot, one brilliant actor, and several other average-to-good actors. The whole "finding out a business is dirty after becoming an employee" theme has been done before, but not this well.     Bottom line: What else can be said about a movie that makes a bag of sesame seeds one of the key players?

Don't ask. Just watch.

Review by Mitch Worthington

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Past FLIX reviews

Tao of Steve
The Watcher
Bless The Child
Almost Famous
Meet the Parents
Pay It Forward
Blair Witch, II
...Bagger Vance
Men of Honor
Sixth Day
Vertical Limit
What Women Want
Miss Congeniality
The Family Man

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