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Antitrust. Dir. Peter Howitt. By Howard Franklin. Perf. Ryan Phillippe, Tim Robbins, and Claire Forlani. MGM, 2001. DVD.

220px-Antitrust poster


When programming genius Milo Hoffman (Ryan Phillippe) is contacted by the CEO of NURV Gary Winston (Tim Robbins) about a job working on Synapse, a worldwide media distributor, it seems as though his dreams have come true. He accepts the job, leaving his friends and garage software project behind. Everything seems to be going well when his best friend and one of his former teammates is killed.

Just a few days after the death, Winston provides Hoffman with a new and revolutionary source code. Becoming suspicious, Hoffman looks into where the code came from and discovers that it was stolen from his murdered friend. However, this code isn't the only thing that NURV has stolen. Many other codes from independent programmers have been stolen, and their creators murdered. Hoffman discovers that NURV is monitoring many young programmers around the world, keeping an eye on the competition in order to insure that Synapse is the first distributor of its kind. Even Hoffman's girlfriend, Alice Poulson (Claire Forlani), is a plant hired by NURV to oversee Hoffman's activity.

Hoffman decides he must stop this 'big brother' company from dominating the market and enlists the help of fellow NURV employee Lisa Calighan (Rachel Leigh Cook) to hijack Synapse and broadcast their charges against NURV to every TV and computer across the world. While attempting to show NURV's crimes to the world by using a local TV station, Hoffman learns that Calighan is a double agent, and is captured and brought to Winston. However, thinking ahead, Hoffman contacted a member of his former team and has him hijack the system while Winston is distracted with Hoffman. After the broadcast goes out, Winston and his entourage are arrested, and Hoffman is made a hero.

This movie perfectly demonstrates the potential problems that can arise from a dominant force on the internet. NURV, and its CEO Gary Winston, have become so powerful that they are able to monitor and, if necessary, eliminate any possible competition. Winston wants to monopolize the Synapse program that he is creating, and he is fearful that programmers from around the world will make their source codes and knowledge free and accessible to everyone. Therefore, he has put an incredible amount of money into preventing that from happening and making sure that he is the only person who will benefit from the creation of the worldwide media distributor. Instead of having an open-source system, where information is accessible by everyone, Winston fought to own the rights to every part of the code, and lost.