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Alas, in other areas they let the team down.
I like the basic premise. Tim Robbins (Gary Winston) as an evil Bill Gates (Gary Winston = William Gates, GW=WG) is certainly an idea that appeals to me (as a an anti-Microsofter from way back). There are even a number of little in-jokes through the plot that pick out the Gates-Microsoft connection (the artwork screens in Winston's house, a character called Redmond, the Dept of Justice accusations, etc). And it was so nice to see so many computers on screen, and not one Windows window anywhere.
Into all of this comes Ryan Phillipe as a hotshot programmer - who, as far as I can see, never actually programs anything. He stares at a lot of code on screens, and types in some pseudo-unix commands, but I can't recall him actually coding anything. As a geek he looks the part, and certainly has the introvert/social inept bit down pat. But even geeks have other emotions.
And how the hell does a guy like him get a girl like Claire Forlani?? Surely that must have sent alarm bells ringing for him early on? Yes, even allowing for the plot twist half way through, guys like him just don't get girls like her - because they're rarely out of the garage.
Rachel Leigh Cook - stunning, and wasted. There was so much more scope for her in this. And the final twist with her character at the end just was not believable.
I'm glad to finally see a movie in which computers and computer programming are an essential device actually treat them with some accuracy. It's fantastic to have a fantasy in which an evil Bill Gates actually gets whats coming to him.
All it needed was a little more character injected into the three main young characters and it would have worked perfectly.
Second, while murder is a bit over the top, pretty well all the other crimes committed by the large corporation in this movie are things of which the real corporation has been seriously accused, been found to be planning, or in some cases, convicted; yet in every case managing to escape with fines or compensation payments much smaller than the profits they made from the crime. That is why we hate them so much, and why this movie was made. It's also obvious why the motif of murder was added: some of the technical details of why their actions are pure evil are difficult for a non-techie to understand, so to make the movie accessible to a wider audience, they added a more blatant crime (plus pyrotechnic special effects, a tense chase scene, love interest, etc).
Thirdly, it is not a futuristic movie, it is present day; nothing in this movie is more than about 1 or 2 years in the future, at most, and most of it is happening now or happened several years ago.
Fourthly, technical realism: while some of the tech stuff is rubbish (hey, it's a movie!), the effort put into realism is dramatically good compared to information technology in any other movie I have ever seen. When we see IP's, they are actual IPs, but martian (I guess they don't want geeks going home and whois-ing them!), the code is all real code: some HTML, some C++, real scripting, but mostly VB (a language the certain large corporation is known to use a lot). The algorithms they discuss improving are even algorithms the product would really require! Not only that, the product is frighteningly similar to the large corporation's actual current development path!
So, if you walked away from this movie thinking "just for geeks" or "totally unrealistic", you need to give yourself a good hard slap, wake up and see what is really going on in the world around you. This movie was about as unrealistic and irrelevant as "All the President's Men".
Oh, by the way, I better say that all the above comments are only my personal opinions, in case they try to sue me, because they do do stuff like that.
The credits sequence began and I immediately cringed and thought, "Hacker 2...ugh." but it didn't turn out that way, much to my pleasure. Horrible computer idiocy was kept to a minimum, and generally only used for dramatic effect rather than the "computerz r kewl" aspect.
The dramatic performances were very good in my opinion and the film was superb in creating suspense. The soundtrack is rather excellent as well.
By my guess, huge changes were made to this film (based on the trailer) and I look forward to seeing an alternate version or cut-scenes on the DVD.
I definitely recommend this movie for anyone who likes technology and computers. For everyone else, I don't know if you would like it, honestly, but I can tell you it's not a whole movie about computers.
Just some things I noticed: All IPs are 10.x.x.x, which is a range reserved for local networks, it should not be accessible remotely, thus would not be usable for a global system such as Synapse. But that is probably done on purpose, just like they do for phone numbers in the movies, all starting in 555-XXXX.
The networks seem to be freaking fast. In particular, for the data transmitted through the satellites with just about zero latency.
The CD burner is quite fast, it can burn a CD in just 20 seconds.
The server which Synapse is being distributed from seems to be very effective, taking millions of hits within hours. In particular, considering that they have never seen that many hits.
Beside the technical details presented, good movie, good action, good plot twists.
SPOILERS FOLLOW, quit reading, OK?!! Robbins also has a system for monitoring non-company programmers remotely, and stealing their code. Murder is sometimes in the plan also, if it is needed. Robbins plays a big boss who is totally devoid of moral fiber, will do anything to advance the goals of his company. It is the detective work by Milo and Lisa that break the case and bring Robbins and his bad guys to justice.
I object most vehemently to three major elements of this film:
1. The geek stereotype! This film is the most insulting presentation of Computer Scientists that I have ever seen. It is obvious that no geek could every have a girlfriend that looks that good and girlfriends in general are rare at a software company. None of them have a life. They all dress badly. One is referred to as "stinker". Not one programmer in this film is presented as a professional. Any concept of a software project management structure is ignored.
2. The technology. You can't look at a screen of code and tell what an entire program will do. Huge systems are not written by one person. The system does not know when you have "finished" a module and inform you that you are done. You can't access a satellite by its IP address. You can't take over all of the worlds communications with any company's satellite network. I could go on and on. They are bound to have had consultants on that film or at least the local systems staff who would tell them this was all dumb.
3. Information wants to be free. This is practically a mantra in the film and was clearly planted to try to get the open-source people to watch the film. So, are they releasing this film without a copyright? They sure preached at me enough. And, this mantra is portrayed as the fundamental belief of the open-source community. In reality, most open-source advocates believe that they have an obligation to release what they have done, but don't believe they have some right to other peoples work. This matra gets preached in the movie without a shred of debate or discussion. It's stupid.
This film also avoided dealing with real issues such as antitrust violations, cloning source you have add access to, buying out competition, and other issues that would have make this an interesting film in the same vein as Wall Street. Instead, it turns into the standard "giant conspiracy" story with lots and lots of gun-toting bad guys. You can tell they took the cast, tossed them into a bin, and pulled out the names of who would get to be the few good guys. It's a tried and not so true plot line and it's just plain dull. They buy this script in a store and just fill in the blanks.
Don't waste your time.
first off, let us all accept the fact that most screenwriters, as much as they may love their craft, probably want to make money off their work. and, as they are human, and have human desires, chances are, they probably want to make a lot of money off their work. that means that sometimes, they have to alter their work (or otherwise "dumb down", but let's not phrase it that way) to make it more accessible to a mainstream audience. now, some people may view this as "selling out", but this isn't necessarily the case: generally, most writers want their work and their message to be appreciated and recognised by the public. this isn't easy to do if the public doesn't understand what the hell they're talking about.
it's not always best for a movie (or a novel, for that matter) to be 100% accurate, because even if everything about the topic completely fascinates you (and generally the author as well, else they wouldn't be writing a story about it), chances are, it's going to bore nearly everyone else--even some of the people who are interested in and are as knowledgeable about the exact same topic. if you want to see a film that is completely and in every way accurate, watch a documentary. do not watch a movie. a movie, like a novel, is supposed to imitate the interesting aspects of reality (conflict, struggle, victory, love, et cetera), it is not supposed to actually be reality. it is supposed to filter out the mundane and uninteresting parts of life.
for example, the fact that we rarely see milo typing code for synapse--we know he can do it (as in the daycare scene), what would it possibly at to the story to actually watch him code synapse? that would be boring. it's much like saying, we never saw any of the character sleep. well, we know they do--but we don't need to watch 8 to 12 hours of them actually doing it.
the only thing that really disappointed me about the movie was the fact that it didn't really explain the motivation for some of the characters' actions. why does lisa turn against milo, and in that same vein, why does allison suddenly decide to lie for him?
Tim Robbins' acting is, as always, very good. He uses the frase "surpise me!" in so many ways, that you can imagine he had alot of fun filming this movie. Ryan Phillipe stays pretty low with his acting, but on the other hand that is what this movie needs. An overacting leading man can often ruin the whole story. And honors to Rachael Leigh Cook, the future really belongs to her. She might not be as much of an actress as she is a star.
The illegal broadcast, combined with the illegal distributing of the software that made that broadcast possible, would ensure a lifetime in a jail cell for Milo and his friends, instead of being treated like heroes as happens in this movie Basically, If you hate companies that make money, and wish to make heroes out of people who can't abide by the law, then this movie is something for you.
However, if you actually have a working brain in your head, you won't need to bother with this film, which in the end is nothing more then a very unrealistic propaganda film for open source software
It's horribly predictable all throughout. I was cooking during the first twenty minutes, but my mate had been watching it from the start. I did not miss out on anything in the storyline. I kind of assumed who everyone was and what had already happened. Very obvious that Ryan Phillipe's mate is going to get killed when he tells him it's good to hear from him again, even though he is working for their enemy.
The best part of the film was noticing that the three main henchmen who carry out the murders and stuff on behalf of the Bill Gates type character (Tim Robbins) are called Schmeichel, Sheringham and Solskjaer. Seriously, that was the most entertaining part.
I would say, as usual, that watch it with a pinch of salt and a few beers and it'll be a good laugh, but it's not. This is a film trying to be good and for that reason I did not enjoy it. If it at least starting taking the mick out of itself, I would've had a good laugh.
The two birds are pretty hot, but I cant help but feel disappointed that he doesn't get off with either of them. The quality of this film could have been vastly improved if there were some breasts on display. A major disappointment.
I was astonished to see that the average rating for this piece of work was 6/10. I am currently in the middle of watching the Tourist whilst watching this and it only got 5.9/10, and it has Timothy Dalton in it! (Something that immediately warrants a 10/10 rating in my book - he certainly is tenacious)
It's not a bad movie, really. It's also not really a blockbuster - not enough special effects, and the drama aspects ... well, they don't really *pop*. Still, it's a solid middle-of-the-pack effort.
Yes there are good looking geeks, and yes there are geeks with hot girlfriends (and sometimes, the geek *is* the hot girlfriend!). Enough with the stereotypes already, guys.
The plot holes are really the girlfriend's sudden change of heart, and the other girl's equally sudden role reversal. Also, the Tim Robbins 'surprise me' approach wouldn't work too well in real life; his goons would get caught too often.
But here's the big spoiler: the idea that a couple of guys in a back room, peering over the shoulders of garage hackers everywhere, would be able to differentiate brilliant source code from typical spaghetti code is ... well, it's the biggest error in the movie, and after reading five pages of comments I am surprised no one else spotted this. Source code is mind-numbingly dull to read, even when the reader is another coder. The primary way to tell what works is to compile and run it, and without an army of code-savvy typists reading inputting that code as they read it from video feeds, there just wouldn't be any way to tell the good stuff from the bad.
Secondly, and I just realized this one, fiber-optic video feeds from every hacker garage on the planet would require a pretty large team of operatives to set up and maintain. So their payroll alone generates a paper trail a mile wide; not to mention the trail generated by all the broadband subscriptions that would be required.
Still, if you are willing to suspend disbelief for an hour and a half, this isn't a bad movie. The Microsoft hatred is slathered on a bit thick, but that's true in most geek hangouts already, so there's nothing new there. The girls are hot, the dialog isn't bad, the general plot is alright. Milo's trick at the end is a good one. The geekery isn't overwhelming to a non-geek, and isn't wrong enough to set off (many) alarm bells for real geeks.
I'd watch it again.
Now how the FCC or anyone else was going to control Tim Robbins as Gary Winston or anyone else when SYNAPSE got going was going to be a real chore. SYNAPSE is a program that will allow one to break into all television broadcasts all over the world. Trouble is that Robbins didn't invent it, in fact he had the guy murdered who did. That's not sitting well with Ryan Phillippe a brilliant computer programmer in his own right who works for Robbins, but is a good friend of the murdered man.
As in the political film Bob Roberts, Robbins creates a really frightening character who will do anything to stay on top. I'm sure Bill Gates's attorneys checked the libel and slander laws very carefully after seeing Antitrust.
But as frightening as Robbins is, more frightening is SYNAPSE itself especially if the technology is in the hands of one man. Think what it might mean if something like that was possessed by Al-Jazeera or Pat Robertson?
Antitrust is a thought provoking film and if it teaches you nothing else, be kind to the computer geeks you meet. For better or worse they are destined to rule the world.
Now that computers have become ordinary things, the simplistic "wargames" can't be repeated and the hacking has become more daunting. But the movie can't explain what it's about: what's Nurv? Why is-it so powerful? What does it achieve? At the end, I still don't know so I can't relate to the movie: I see people working, thinking but I don't understand anything.
On the other hand, the thriller is well done with the character becoming more and more paranoiac.
Thus, I help this movie with a little "4" vote instead of an awful "1" just because of the turn of events and the good cast (even thought a decade later, no one has made a big name!).