What looked like a boring thriller that should have gone straight to video turned out to be one of the coolest movies of the year. What also looked to be the least charismatic performance on record by 2D pretty boy Phillipe was lifted above his talent by an outstanding script and fantastic direction.

Stanford IT grad Milo (Phillipe) leaves his friend Teddy - with whom he plans to do an open-source startup - to take a plum job at Microso- I mean N.U.R.V., run by the computer mutli-billionaire Bill G- I mean, Gary Winston (Robbins).

The mistake is easy to make - after the scripted disclaimer that the story is NOT about Microsoft (where Milo mentions Bill Gates name) - it's clear every step that Winston and N.U.R.V are parables for Gates and the Evil Empire. They're pro-market and anti-social, mercilessly buying up everyone and everything and holding patentable technology jealously close. Even the title references Microsoft's past legal woes.

After Teddy's murder, it sets up the terror early when Winston unwittingly gives away the whole secret, that N.U.R.V. is spying on developers everywhere, murdering them and stealing their breakthroughs, as they did Teddy. Then the race is on to use Winston's new baby - Synapse, a communication technology that will connect every device on Earth - to expose him before he finds out what Milo's up to.

The really bad stuff is kept in the place you'd never expect - the daycare centre, and it's there in an inspired sequence that Milo learns the horrible truth of his life. Almost everything around him, even his own girlfriend, has been set up to deliver him into Winston's hands.

He enlists the help of another programmer (Cook) and of course saves the day, but the action is tense and the story riveting. It also features some of the most realistic computers-on-film drama seen so far; no swirling graphics, just lines of code that are geeky enough to be realistic and plain enough so you can understand.

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