Wet-behind-the-ears Milo (Ryan Phillippe) is a brilliant young computer programmer with big plans to launch a high-tech startup with his genius-type buddies. Until that is he's sweet-talked into an office job by his hero renowned programmer Gary Winston (Tim Robbins) the super-rich ruthless leader of the huge computer corporation NURV. Winston knows a computer mastermind like Milo is just what he needs to get NURV's plans for a global satellite system off the ground on deadline so he whisks Milo off to NURV's plush offices equips him with a Mercedes SUV and gives him a salary high enough to support himself and girlfriend Alice (Claire Forlani) more than adequately. But something's wrong with this picture and Milo's dream come true turns into a nightmare as tragedy strikes and he discovers what a evil guy Winston really is (think Bill Gates gone bad).
At first glance pouty Ryan Phillippe might not strike you as first choice when casting a computer genius but give it awhile. He's actually somewhat convincing (and lookin' good in a pair of dark-rimmed glasses). Coming across like a bizarre hybrid of Jerry Springer and David Letterman Tim Robbins is passable as the father-figure-gone-wrong corporate honcho who will commit whatever illegal immoral acts he has to crush the entrepreneurial underdog in the name of free enterprise. Despite some clunky dialogue the rest of the cast is satisfactory. Claire Forlani seems too old for Phillippe and at first is irritatingly simpering as Milo's girlfriend until you learn just what she's up to. Weakest among them is Rachael Leigh Cook as Lisa the seemingly innocent computer graphics chick who befriends Milo - something too self-conscious in her delivery makes her less credible.
Keep your disbelief suspended with this one kiddies 'cause more than a few things don't quite add up. Like how come Milo is able to get around unnoticed on the supposedly ultra-high security NURV campus which happens to be equipped with cameras tracking up-and-coming computer programmers in their homes around the world? And if Milo is concerned about the ever-omnipotent NURV why is he yelling his suspicions about the company to Alice in their suburban backyard where every neighbor within two blocks can hear? Whatever. The movie is still fast-paced fun and even though some of the plot twists are as obvious as the glasses on Bill Gates' face a few surprises still might catch you off guard. The subtle special effects are cool as are the sets - the minute you see Winston's house you'll wish it was yours. This film has some halfway decent character development which too many movies recently have almost wholly done away with.