Paranoia: Movie Review
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, Amber Heard, Richard Dreyfuss, Julian McMahon
Director: Robert Luketic
Billed as a "high stakes thriller", Paranoia is a delve into the world of greed and deception within the technology industry.
It focuses on Liam Hemsworth's Adam, a young up-and-comer in the industry who's been working at entry level at a tech company run by Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman, in cock-er-nee mood). Adam's an honest sort, but one who wants more from life, envious of how some are willing to cheat to get ahead and have achieved major wealth off of others. He lives at home with his sick father (a criminally underused Richard Dreyfuss) and is always struggling.
When he and his team are fired from their jobs, they head out to commiserate and spend up big on their company credit card. But the next day, Adam's hauled up in front of his amoral former boss and given an ultimatum and Faustian pact from Wyatt - face jail time for fraud charges or infiltrate another tech company run by Harrison Ford's Jock Goddard, Wyatt's former mentor and now business enemy.
Seduced by the wealth and possibilities, Adam's sucked into a world of corporate esponiage and is soon in danger of losing his life.
Paranoia is supposed to be a thriller, but to be frank, it lacks any real thrills or suspense whatsoever, resulting in a perfectly average, but utterly under-cooked effort.
Likewise, why tease the possibility of Oldman and Ford's characters being major rivals and have them face off each other in only a handful of scenes? And when they finally do face each other down, there's scant tension, little energy and only the slightest frisson of them wanting to tear strips off each other. Though the sight of a shaven headed Ford at the end seething and threatening to boil over brings the first sign of life to this - but it's too late by then.
Underwritten characters, lumpen direction and laughable dialogue in this derail it from the start. An initial voiceover from Hemsworth intones that "I am not going to make excuses - I asked for this" as he extols the fact the American dream has been bastardised by the corporate greed (before fully embracing said greed); another scene in the latter stages at the tech company sees one security guard screaming that they need to "get the IT guy on the line" when their systems go down. Even Ford isn't invulnerable too - he succumbs to delivering the line -"Power's the juice - get used to drinking it"
Worst though is Amber Heard's marketing boss Emma whom Adam tries to kindle a romance with. Initially frosty after a one night stand, there's the promise of some delicious banter and back and forth to give this some spark; but the writers choose to turn Heard's ball busting, no-nonsense corporate bigwig into a weak kneed, just wants a nice man to love her stereotype, who ends up resorting to batting her eyes and looking through her long hair at sad moments. The underwriting of the characters - that's the biggest crime of Paranoia, a film so mis-labelled there's hardly any paranoia around at all.
All in all, Paranoia had the trappings of some decent moments and the promise of a thriller, but it delivers up a damp squib which is memorable for all the things it does wrong, rather than getting it right. And that's enough to make anyone in Hollywood paranoid.