PLOT: After entry-level employee Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) is fired by his billionaire tech genius boss Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) he takes his revenge by taking his friends out for a wild night on the town, all charged to his company credit card, to the tune of $16,000. Threatened with jail, Adam is instead talked into become a mole for Wyatt in an even bigger tech company owned by the paternal Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford), formerly Wyatt's mentor. With the promise of a huge payday and a bright future, Adam becomes the perfect corporate spy, but when he falls for one of Goddard's star employees (Amber Heard) he begins to realize he's a pawn in a bigger game.
REVIEW: If that plot outline sounds familiar, that's only because it is. Basically, PARANOIA is like a serious version of Tony Gilroy's DUPLICTY, only minus any of the wit, glamour or excitement. Heck, DUPLICTY wasn't even all that great of a movie to begin with, so you can only imagine how dull PARANOIA must be.
Truth be told, if it wasn't for co-stars Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, I bet PARANOIA would have gone straight to DVD. I'm sure everyone involved was certain they were making a twisty, relevant thriller, and really, PARANOIA should have been decent. Greedy CEO's being taken down could have made for a solid, crowd-pleasing film, but other than the novel casting of Ford and Oldman, everything about PARANOIA is stale, from the direction to it's impossibly bland leading man.
I know Liam Hemsworth is suddenly a big heartthrob after THE HUNGER GAMES, and while he's fine in certain kinds of roles, he's nowhere near seasoned, or even charismatic enough to pull off this kind of part. He's supposed to be playing this smooth-talking genius, but Hemsworth is as boring as can be. They needed someone that's a live wire (Bradley Cooper in LIMITLESS is a good example of the energy this needed) but Hemsworth doesn't seem capable of bringing any kind of excitement to the part. Even his (tame) love scenes with the vivacious Amber Heard (mostly wasted as window-dressing) come off as stale. Hemsworth is just totally unsuited to the part, and only seems to have been cast to bring in teenage girls, meaning that he takes off his shirt every ten minutes of so to show off his abs. I'll give this to the guy, he's in great shape, but he really can't carry this kind of movie yet. Maybe he'll bring in the tweens (which I doubt) but I really can't remember the last time I saw such a bland performance by a leading man in big-budget movie.
Maybe I'm being too hard on Hemsworth though. To be fair, even with a more charismatic lead PARANOIA probably still would have laid an egg. Robert Luketic, who did a relatively good job with 21, directs this like a movie-of-the week, with no imagination or flair. At just under two hours, PARANOIA feels endless, and even worse, is so predictable that even if you havent seen the trailers which give away the entire plot, you should be able to more or less know where this is going within the first ten minutes.
Really, the only reasons to see PARANOIA are Oldman and Ford. Both seem to be having a grand old time, with Oldman playing to type, and Ford against it (and looking cool with a shaved head and glasses). There's one scene that almost makes PARANOIA worth watching, and that's an icy encounter between Oldman and Ford where the two toy with each other, while Hemsworth looks on placidly. Both are entertaining, but it seems like a cruel joke to cast these two icons in a movie and then make them play second (and third) banana to Hemsworth. I also enjoyed seeing Richard Dreyfuss back on the big screen as Hemsworth's sickly dad, although it's hard to buy them as father and son. They barely look like they belong on the same planet (with the strapping Hemsworth being a good foot taller than Dreyfuss) much less the same family (mom must have been an Amazon).
It's too bad PARANOIA ended up being such a lame movie, as it actually would have been quite nice to close out the summer with a smart, entertaining thriller. Too bad PARANOIA is neither smart, nor entertaining, Ford and Oldman's contributions notwithstanding. Skip it.
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